The British royal family has invited Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda to a meeting to discuss philanthropy issues, Nyasa Times understands.
Banda, who is currently in United States, is expected to be visiting Britain next where amongst her engagements will be to give a lecture at the reputable London School of Economics.
However, Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York has invited Banda to a meeting.
Ferguson is a daughter in-law of Her Majesty the Queen.
In a letter to Banda, seen by Nyasa Times, Robert Oakley an officer in the Duchess of York philanthropy department said the Duchess was introduced to the former Malawi leader by Scott Lazerson.
“The Duchess has long been a great admirer of you and the amazing work you do. Your work and achievements are an inspiration to us all,” reads the letter to Banda.
“I understand that you are visiting London in the near future to give a lecture at the London School of Economics. I was hoping there might be an opportunity to arrange a meeting whilst you are in London. It would be an amazing opportunity to connect and discuss the issues that are close to both of you,” the invitation letter further reads.
An entrepreneur, activist, politician and a philanthropist, Banda was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. Voted as Africa’s most powerful woman by Forbes Magazine for two years running and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world, Joyce Banda is a champion for the rights of women, children, the disabled and other marginalized groups.
Banda’s unwavering commitment to promotion of women’s maternal health and reproductive rights saw her establish Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood, which spearheaded the fight against high maternal mortality and promotion of safe motherhood in Malawi.
Remarkably during the two year period of her presidency, Malawi registered considerable success in the areas of maternal and child health and reproductive health in general as the country reduced maternal mortality ratio from 675 deaths per 100,000 live births to 460. The achievement is attributed to the model which Banda introduced, which was a balanced act of both traditional and technical dimensions and approaches.
A recipient of more than 15 international accolades including “Hunger Project Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger” shared with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 1997, Banda is a strong advocate for women and girls’ emancipation and empowerment and a prominent civil rights campaigner.
She founded the Joyce Banda Foundation International, which has guided projects from empowering women, rural communities to providing orphans education. Currently, the Joyce Banda Foundation International has benefitted over 1.3 million people in Malawi through various programs and interventions ranging from economic empowerment, agriculture and food security, education, water and sanitation, youth development just to mention a few.
Among many other organisations, she established the National Association of Business Women, which lends women start-up cash to build small businesses, and the Young Women’s Leadership Network, which mentors female students in schools.
On the international scene, Banda was instrumental in formation of organisations like African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE), currently running in 41 countries in Africa, Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA) and Americans and Africans Business Women’s Alliance (AABWA) of which she served as First President.
Banda sits on a number international organisations. These include Executive Advisory Committee of UNIFEM, Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and Scientific Advisory Board of the Programs in Global health and Social change for Harvard Medical School.
Banda has been a panelist and motivational speaker at a number of international conferences and forums, including the International Conference on Women in Beijing, the American and African Business Women’s Africa Conference in London and the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC.