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Letter from Madam Sirleaf

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According to observers, in the next twenty years, Africa’s combined GDP will be among the fastest growing in the world. This is a unique opportunity for all nations across the continent to strive for transformational change.

However, as long as Africa excludes our women and girls from full participation in and leadership of our societies, the transformational change the continent desperately needs will remain elusive.

Advancing women in public leadership benefits everyone. There is a strong link between women in leadership and better health, education, environmental and healthcare outcomes. However, the unfettered participation and leadership of women in public life is still just an aspiration.

Dramatic progress on women’s political representation in Sub-Saharan Africa gives me hope. Five of the top 15 countries in the world on women’s representation in parliament are in Africa. Without doubt, Africa is trending in the right direction. However, true governing powers remain largely closed to women. Women lack access to the well-established networks and pathways that continue to support patriarchal systems within party and public management structures. We need to do much more.

Representation is a meaningful end in itself. But in the public sector context, women’s representation matters even more for progress on policy outcomes that matter for development, such as child mortality, education, nutrition, and productivity. Encouraging women and girls to reach their full potential brings prosperity to all – if women participated equally in the global economy, it would lift the global GDP by 26% over the next 10 years.

That’s why I am working with a team of people, committed to this vision, to build the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development that will support women as agents of change, makers of peace, and drivers of progress.

I believe that gender parity can be reached in public service on the continent and my hope is that the Center will be a key institution in advocating for equality in political representation and training the next generation of women leaders in public service.

Through a unique blend of programming, advocacy, research and exhibitions, the Center will advance women’s political and social development on the continent. By increasing the number of women in public life and leadership, we will amplify the voices of all women and girls across Africa.

By investing in women, we have the opportunity to accelerate and secure Africa’s progress. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

SUPPORT OUR WORK

The Center welcomes meaningful partnership proposals and volunteers in a number of areas. Donations to the Center go directly to running our programs to help increase the representation of women in leadership roles and public service across Africa.