Rumbidzai Chisenga: “There’s incredible value in bringing women leaders together”
Bringing women together helps them find new pathways to positions of influence, said Rumbidzai Chisenga, as she discussed the successes of the first year of the Amujae Initiative, the EJS Center’s flagship program.
Ms. Chisenga, Director of Programs at the EJS Center, said that “the most important ingredient” for the success of the Amujae Initiative “has been the women themselves.”
“We spend a lot of time and effort trying to understand the women that join our cohorts—their backgrounds, their motivations, their aspirations—and our program is structured around [responding to their needs].”
The Amujae Initiative launched its second year of programming in January 2021 with the announcement of the second cohort of Amujae Leaders. The 2020 and 2021 Amujae Leaders together comprise 30 African women leaders from 16 countries across the continent. Explaining a key element of the program, Ms. Chisenga said:
“Through the year, we connect [the Amujae Leaders] with each other for peer support, and with more experienced women leaders who have walked the path before them.”
Though the Amujae Initiative is still in its early years, Ms. Chisenga noted that many of the women experienced similar challenges in their leadership journeys, but they “play out differently, and they have different solutions in a variety of contexts.” The diversity of the program is just one of its many strengths:
“There’s incredible value in bringing women leaders together to share personal experiences, and at the same time to expand their understanding about the trends and practices. I think that’s what helps women leaders refine their strategies and uncover fresh pathways to the influence and positions they seek.”
Ms. Chisenga also spoke with pride about the EJS Center’s campaign to celebrate African women who have gone above and beyond in their responses to the COVID-19 crisis: the Spotlight a COVID-19 Heroine initiative.
“It was a moment to showcase women who are in careers that are often overlooked, or that are not often centered in our reporting, for them to emerge as strong leaders… The work that women are doing across the continent to create some sort of cohesion [in a time of crisis] is being noticed.”
One of the reasons that Ms. Chisenga viewed the initiative as a success was the number of nominations that the EJS Center received, causing them to feature twice as many women as they had originally planned to profile.
“Our nominations came from across the board: they came from different sectors, different genders, different countries. It’s encouraging to see that the general public is actually really responsive and they’re paying attention to women’s leadership.”
The “Women Who Win” event was co-hosted by NationBuilder, a technology platform for political and issue-advocacy campaigns, and Atalanta, a consultancy specializing in advancing women’s leadership. It featured insights from a panel of women campaigners discussing creating networks and building knowledge to advance the next generation of women public leaders. You can watch the full event here.