British professor Baroness Haleh Afshar has hailed Malawi’s former president and founder of Joyce Banda Foundation International, Joyce Banda as a woman with extremely impressive track record.
Baroness Afshare, Professor Emeritus at the University of York who serves as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, hailed Banda for her achievements when the former president delivered a lecture at London School of Economics and Political Science.
She described Banda as “a formidable woman” with a moving story to tell.
“She is a kind of a woman that many women are not,” said Baroness Afshar who was the lecture chair, adding that Banda has fought against nepotism, corruption, and running charities “ despite threats and difficulties. She is really a formidable woman.”
Professor Craig Calhoun, Director of London School of Economics said Banda has a “very good track record”.
Banda, said the university’s director, is an “inspirational woman of courage, vision and commitment in advancing the cause of women.”
In her public lecture titled: “Investigating women’s journey into public life: Above the Parapet,” Banda said her mission in life is to empower women and youth through business and education.
“I am a self made leader” said Banda who pointed out that she is privileged to have lived most of the challenges women face.
“I have moved from where I was not sure where my next meal would come from. On this journey, I have believed that leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve and the people falling in love with you. I truly believe in servant leadership,” she said.
Banda said the grain of leadership in men or women alike will need nurturing to come to full maturity.
“On my journey as a Malawian woman who is deeply conscious of the history and struggles of Malawian women and girls; as an African woman who knows the challenges of African women and girls; as a global human rights activist who has championed for the plight of marginalized women and girls and the advancement of women; and as a former Head of State who has campaigned for the Malawian people, the African people and those of the World, I have come to believe that the participation of women in leadership has to be a common agenda for both men and women,” said Banda, the only female president to have governed Malawi.
She said the question of whether a leader is born or made is an ongoing debate.
“What is important is the need to nurture, support and mentor those that are spotted with leadership instinct even though they may be marginalised. And this includes women most of whom are indeed marginalised,” she said.
In her lecture, Banda also highlighted the role her charitable organisation Joyce Banda Foundation International is playing in Malawi and recent launched Joyce Banda Foundation International Africa Initiative (JBFI Africa) at the United Nations General Assembly Building in New York United States.
“Today the Joyce Banda Foundation International is sending 1,300 students to tertiary education, 3,500 students to secondary school every year and 500,000 business women benefit through business loans, seed capital, training in entrepreneurial skills and linkages to markets,” said Banda to a fully packed auditorium at the England’s top university attracting hand clapping from the audience.
She said the Joyce Banda Foundation International also has a network of 850,000 youths who are taught life skills including health, sports and leadership.