Former President of the Republic of Malawi Dr. Joyce Banda delivered a keynote address at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa Retreat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday, February 24, 2015.
UNDP recently went through a corporate restructuring exercise resulting in the regionalization of its assets and capacities. Now the staff and capacities for Africa reside in the Regional Service Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Leadership and responsibility for supporting UNDP’s country offices in Africa, national and regional partners, civil society and other stakeholders in the continent will be from the Regional Service Centre.
A regional retreat was organized for more than 120 UNDP staff members from all over Africa including the Associate Administrator and Under-Secretary General, Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa and other senior leadership of the UNDP.
The UNDP Regional Retreat was sought to gain a better understanding of the the drivers of change in the world and how they are affecting national development processes.
UNDP desires to contribute to the economic transformation that is taking place in Africa in ways that are equitable, inclusive and sustainable.
Former President Banda reflected on the time she was Malawi’s and how she dealt with the challenges her and her government faced. She cited four policy areas that influenced her term of office—conflict and governance; economic management and poverty reduction; fighting corruption and accountability; and women and youth empowerment.
Banda acknowledged the role and support UNDP plays in Malawi. She cited how the UN and the in country UNDP office mediated the conflict in 2010 between Malawi Government and citizen groups; and the support to elections, funding of women parliamentary candidates and the National Export Strategy to strengthen the export base of the Malawian economy.
She urged the UNDP and other international development partners to work with local players on the ground in order to achieve equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
JB as Banda is fondly called said that since women and youth are in majority in the world, no meaningful development can be achieved without meaningful engagement of women and youth.
“We have seen some African Governments that have moved from conflict to peace, from stagnation to star performers and from underdevelopment to middle income economies. We also have witnessed women leaders emerging in all sectors of society. Again still odds, they are breaking barriers and entering new frontiers of life.
“These great women are heralding a new message that women will no longer be spectators, standing on the fence asking for mercy and favour. But as equal players, they are taking up positions in state house, boardrooms, market place and in science.
“This is good news indeed, said former President Banda, adding that this provides hope for some of the toughest places in the world to further combat poverty, increase prosperity, secure peace, and widen the global circle of development.
“It is my hope that the UN family will take leadership on this journey,” she said.
Later in the day, the former Malawi President met with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr.Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma where she briefed the chairperson on the African Union Election Observer Mission to Botswana in September 2014 where she was leader of delegation.
JB congratulated the African Union for declaring 2015 a Year of Women in Africa. Dr.Nkosazana Zuma appreciated former President Banda’s leadership during the AU Election Observer Mission to Botswana where the programme went on very well.