By BBC World Service International Publicity
Published September 26, 2012
In the past 12 months, two African women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Leymah Gbowee and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, both from Liberia. The Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda became the first female chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court; South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first female chair of the African Union Commission; and the continent gained its second female president as Joyce Banda took the helm in Malawi.
This forms the basis of the BBC Africa Debate that shall be aired from Lilongwe, Malawi, on Friday, September 28, 2012. The programme, presented by BBC’s South African presenter Audrey Brown and BBC Africa Debate will engaging politicians, policy-makers, gender activists, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, teachers, religious leaders, writers, journalists, academics and students, shall ask whether African women are winning the power battle. It shall take a look at change brought about by African women who have made inroads into traditionally male spheres such as politics, business, the church and management.
Panelists shall include Loveness Gondwe, a former MP who founded her own party to stand as the only female candidate in the 2009 presidential election in Malawi; Bishop Patricia Pindeni, former businesswoman who ran her own successful PR company for 17 years before leaving the Catholic church to set up her ministry; and Seodi White, Executive Director of Women and Law in Southern Africa – Malawi, leading gender activist and scholar.
While many African countries exceed the global average for female parliamentarians and ministers, the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap report says that less than one in four managers, legislators or senior officials is a woman in most African countries. And they are even further behind in the classroom. In fact, when it comes to access to education, sub-Saharan Africa is the most unequal region in the world. Of the 30 countries with the biggest gap between male and female literacy rates, 23 of them are in Africa. So, how much has really changed?
The programme’s senior producer, Ugandan Rachael Akidi, explains the decision to hold this edition of the programme from Malawi:Â “Before taking the office of the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda had been a women’s rights activist for many years. When she was vice-president, her critics claimed the country was not ready for a female leader. As president, Joyce Banda has strived to prove them wrong.Â We want to know whether women perform any differently from their male counterparts, and should they be expected to? What barriers remain for women with leadership ambitions? Are affirmative action and quota systems necessary — do they even work?Â We will ask whether last year’s landmark appointments are part of a wider trend, and how much attitudes towards women in power have changed.”
This edition of BBC Africa Debate will be recorded on Friday 28 September at 10am local time in Lilongwe, Malawi.Â It will be broadcast by BBC World Service at 19.00 GMT on the same day. The programme will be repeated on Sunday 30 September at 13.00 GMT.Â The debate will also be online at bbcafrica.com, on Twitter #bbcafricadebate, @bbcafrica on Facebook and Google+ on the BBCAfrica page.
Debates on the same subject will be broadcast by BBC Kiswahili service on Friday,Â September 28, 2012 and by the BBC Great Lakes service in Kinyarwanda/Kirundi on Saturday, September 29, 2012.