Advancing Women’s Political Leadership and Gender Equality in Africa: WDN-Africa at Women Deliver 2023

  • Allison Reinhardt

The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Women’s Democracy Network-Africa (WDN-Africa) is a vibrant network of exceptional leaders dedicated to harnessing the collective power of women from across the continent. With a dynamic membership spanning 30 countries, this network leverages the expertise of women in civil society, media, business, politics and government to amplify critical issues and champion innovative solutions to advance women’s political leadership and gender equality in Africa.

In July 2023, WDN formally launched the WDN-Africa regional network to recognize its accomplishments and enable its leaders to engage with other activists and changemakers attending the Women Deliver 2023 (WD 2023) conference in Kigali, Rwanda. Elected WDN-Africa leaders, Afiah Appiah, Perry Aritua, Ebere Ifendu, Veronica Mangeni, Shamira Mshangama and Sally Ncube hosted the United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta during her first international trip as ambassador. During the event, Ambassador Gupta spoke about the importance of connecting women leaders, “We’ve recognized over time that when women have the chance to talk to each other, strategize together and share lessons learned, there is greater possibility for momentum and movement forward.”

Elected WDN-Africa leaders pose with Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, Deborah MacLean and WDN advisory council member, Ashley Davis.

We’ve recognized over time that when women have the chance to talk to each other, strategize together and share lessons learned, there is greater possibility for momentum and movement forward.

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Gupta
WDN-Africa leader, Shamira Mshangama, delivers closing remarks at a WD 2023 plenary session.

Further underscoring WDN’s prominent role in fostering women’s political and civic participation, WDN-Africa leader Shamira Mshangama delivered closing remarks during a plenary session at Women Deliver 2023. This remarkable session featured distinguished figures such as Former President Joyce Banda of Malawi, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (a 2016 WDN Honoree), Former President Mary Robinson of Ireland, as well as Former First Lady of South Africa Graca Machel. Mshangama emphasized the need to encourage women, especially young girls, to participate in civic and political life by pursuing leadership positions. The discussion also delved into pivotal moments in the leaders’ careers, highlighting the persistent barriers women face in politics and strategies to establish longstanding pathways for future women leaders. Mshangama shared that WDN helped equip her with the skills to lead and start a nonprofit in Tanzania focused on mentoring young girls.

Global convenings like WD 2023 provide opportunities for reflection on WDN’s global impact and serve as a source of pride in an expansive network of driven women committed to building stronger, more equitable communities. WDN-Africa’s influence continues to grow regionally with local governments, CSOs, and international organizations consistently seeking its involvement in various forums and events across Africa. WDN-Africa will continue hosting discussions this fall focused on women’s participation in elections, strategizing ways to support candidates and elected women in future elections across the continent.

Up ArrowTop