Archive for June, 2010

That ‘G’ word again…..

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

I’ve been following with avid interest the G(irls) 20 Summit in Canada and the passion behind finding workable solutions to meet the Millennium Development Goals that most impact women and girls (by the way, what are these goals you think?).

The Summit brought together one girl from each of the G20 countries (as the Summit was modeled after the G20 Summit) ten days before the actual Toronto G20 Summit to start exploring solutions. The 20 countries represented were: Argentina;  Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; France; Germany; India; Indonesia; Italy; Japan; Mexico; Russia; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; South Korea; Turkey; UK; USA and a representative of the European Union.

The importance of investing in women and girls cannot be denied (see our Facebook note on empowering girls…and join our Facebook page!). I look forward to following the progress of the G(irls) 20 Summit.

Do you have any workable solutions to meet these MDGs that most impact women and girls? Integrating leadership development programs and other life skills development programs into girls’ formal schooling, perhaps? I want to hear them!

Impressions of Senegal

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

by Jeannine Wilson*

The hustle and lively nature of Senegal struck me immediately as I left the Dakar airport at 5:00 am. As we commenced our drive to Saint Louis, the streets of Dakar filled, business as usual — commerce at its finest. The colourful markets, construction projects, and traffic of the city created a ‘morning energy’ different from any city I have been to before.

Our drive to Saint Louis was scenic and eye opening to say the least. The beautiful backdrop clashed with the disparities of the people. Despite the vibrant coloured dresses of women with child on their back, the little boys playing in the dust and men are trying to cultivate whatever possible the struggle to provide is evident. Upon arrival in Saint Louis, the surprising differences from Dakar are noticed in the post-colonial laid-back nature of the city. As youth fill the streets to start their day it becomes clear to me exactly why it is that targeting leadership in this generation is so important. The liveliness of this youthful generation is apparent in their big smiles, friendly nature, and love of sports as they are glued to the television watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup (See former intern, Meghan Davis’ post on ‘Sports and Youth Leadership). The opportunities to focus this energy into productive and effective manners to better their communities, regions, and country is a crucial realisation that has so easily slid under the radar of development programs. I am excited to continue my work here with Leadership Africa USA and I look forward to all the adventures ahead as I now believe and understand first hand why leadership is such a crucial aspect in ensuring socio-economic and political development in Senegal.

*Jeannine Wilson is one of Leadership Africa USA’s summer interns and is a rising senior at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is an honors major in political science with a focus on international relations.

Youth Leadership Development Gaining Traction in Senegal

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

On June 18, 2010, Leadership Africa USA announced plans to work with Senegal’s Ministry of Education to distribute more than 100,000 copies of our youth leadership training curriculum to Senegal’s middle schools. The launch was a delightful opportunity to express gratitude to USAID including the USAID/Senegal office and the Africa Education Initiative ; to Senegal’s Ministry of Primary Education including the Academic Inspectorate; and to our local partners, who have all significantly contributed to the development and success of our youth leadership training initiative in Senegal.

Below are excerpts of my remarks from the launch event and you can find USAID/Senegal’s Mission Director, Kevin Mullally’s speech here (in French).

Leadership Africa USA’s vision is to enable the youngest generation of African leaders to overcome the many development challenges confronting post-conflict societies through leadership training and peer-to-peer character building.

Today’s event is a celebration of the youth leadership training initiatives being implemented in Senegal’s Casamance Region by Leadership Africa USA since 2008 and proof the time is now for a revolution in leadership training that focuses on youth, especially girls. Senegal’s Ministry of Education, academic inspectors, principals, teachers, and students have demonstrated their support for this expansion. They have stepped-up and today Senegal is the only Francophone country implementing a leadership training curriculum for middle school students.

This is an important model to expand Africa’s peace dividend. Our leadership training curriculum is positive recognition of the important relationship linking effective leadership to sustainable peace. We believe youth leadership training at an early stage in a child’s development, will empower the next generation of leaders in Africa and our future and Senegal’s future is in their hands tied to the choices and the contributions they make to their communities.

Leadership Africa’s goal and development agenda in Senegal going forward is to expand academic inspector, principal and teacher- training in order to effectively deliver the leadership curriculum in Senegal’s school system.

In closing, we stand by our commitments and I pledge to you that Leadership Africa USA will renew and expand our actions. We understand expressing commitments alone will not achieve results — results require actions and success mandates that Leadership Africa, Senegal’s Ministry of Education, USAID, and our local partners all do our part.

 Rest assured, we will.

Are the tides turning? Africa is finding her growth pulse

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The end of armed conflicts, improved macroeconomic conditions and microeconomic reforms to improve the business climate are some of the key reasons given in a recently published article from McKinsey & Company (sign-up required) 

for Africa’s solid economic performance. Surprisingly, the article points out that the commodities boom is just a partial answer to the Africa’s GDP growth – other sectors such as manufacturing, telecommunications, and transportation have played an equally important role.

The more poignant points of the article (at least with respect to the work we do at Leadership Africa USA) included:

  1. the importance of ‘non-economic’ factors such as conflict resolution in being a contributor to charting Africa’s growth. Our work in conflict-affected environments is premised on that the fact that conflict inhibits development at the social, economic and human levels. Therefore it is of little surprise to us that the end (or marked reduction) of armed conflicts is one factor for Africa’s positive growth progress.
  2. The need to focus on educating the continent’s youth population as this cohort is a primary contributor to the region’s labor force expansion. Making education and skills training a priority will positively impact the probability of long term growth in Africa.

I believe we are experiencing a unique opportunity to make dramatic progress in Africa through quality education and leadership training to help raise living standards especially focusing on African youth (especially girls) – the new generation of change. Leadership training is critical — what do you think?