Fellow from Madagascar

Denyse UMUTONIWASE

AMD FELLOWSHIP FOR EMERGING YOUNG WOMEN LEADERS IN AFRICA

OVERVIEW

Breaking the glass ceiling – the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper rungs of the political ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements – in Africa entails building a critical mass of women who are able to reverse the wave of political exclusion and discrimination. However, political interest and participation among women in Africa remains critically low. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women make up less than one-quarter (23%) of parliamentary representative in sub-Saharan Africa.

Within this context, expanding political participation for women through deliberate efforts which emphasize empowerment and support for emerging women leaders is critical.  This is given expression in Pillar 3 of AMD’s Vision 2021, which aims to “Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Girls to Achieve De Facto Equality of Opportunity for Political Participation for both Women and Men by the Year 2021.”

The AMD Fellowship for Emerging Young Women Leaders in Africa is thus designed to support and accompany young female activists and organizers aspiring to engage in politics in their countries by facilitating access to capacity building and mentoring opportunities. The fellowship is targets young women leaders from any African country, between 18 and 35.

Fellows will typically spend 4 days of training in a specified training hub (currently mostly programs run by member organizations on the Board of AMD) acquiring skills and connecting with key leaders and mentors locally and subsequent to the fellowship. Participation in the program affords emerging young female political aspirants an unparalleled opportunity to build networks and deepen understanding of the working of the political process. This is also an opportunity where they can leverage intergenerational knowledge and experiences, and identify pathways for transition into political leadership.

COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM

The fellowship consists of four main components: the first component involves training to equip candidates with essential skills while the second component entails mentoring as a continuous coaching process for the candidates. The last two components which include peer learning (connecting fellows with each other as well as raising the visibility of their work) and redefinition – closing the active phase of the activities and helping build any responses around other concerns the fellows may bring to the attention of the AMD.

 Capacity building

Equal opportunity for leadership does not imply that women should be handed roles they are unqualified for, but rather presents the need for an equal playing field in leadership opportunities. The stereotypes of being both young and female reinforce patriarchal misconceptions that narrowly paint women as abject, nurturers, emotional, and bearers of culture; and youth as being uninformed and inexperienced, thus, deeming public and political spaces inappropriate and unfitting for young women to traverse. Given this reality, in a context where advancing women’s political participation is crucial for delivering on the SDGs, our core conviction is that training young women in political participation at an early juncture in their careers will serve as a catalyst for ensuring women’s full and effective political engagement and equal opportunities for leadership

AMD member organizations currently receiving fellows run some of the most dynamic youth political development programs with great impact in their countries, regions or Africa-wide.

NewSETA’s REPAIR (Rebuilding Peace through Actions with Inclusive Reach) Training Series targets young thought leaders from Cameroon and increasingly from the Central African Sub region to craft youth focused solutions to existing democracy challenges. Organized in two semesters and recognized through government award of certification, the NED sponsored program has earned its place as a relevant platform for youth engagement in Cameroon.

Nigeria based Youngstars Foundation organizes the CANVASSITY Pan African Youth Democracy Fellowship –  a dynamic innovative youth and governance program designed to improve the capacity of young people to effectively engage elected representatives and government institutions to become more accountable, efficient and to deliver impactful governance to citizens. Through a peer learning cluster, this program connects participants to high level structures in Africa such as the African Union, and ECOWAS

GenCED (Gender Centre for Empowering Development), a Ghana based organization, runs programs aimed at helping increase women’s participation in decision-making and in the governance process.

Other training hubs include Liberia based NAYMOTE, OYEBO Botswana, Tanzania Bora Initiative, Youth Lab in South Africa, Youth Can in Tunisia  and YIAGA Nigeria (currently running the Not Too Young To Run advocacy program which has become global).

These platforms serve as a melting pot where some of the most accomplished in society share wealth of experience and knowledge with fellows. Selected fellows will therefore be admitted in any of the programs organized by any of these organizations based on which programs are available within the stipulated period of the fellowship.

Mentoring

The AMD has included in the fellowship, a highly structured mentoring component which is aimed at placing the selected fellows in highly rewarding mentoring relationships with accomplished female leaders/politicians. The fellows will benefit from mentors carefully chosen in the country of their fellowship. The mentorship program is intended to be a continuous process which begins with a face-to-face meeting during the fellowship and subsequent exchanges.

The mentor is expected to guide and coach the mentee on the areas mentioned below (Expected Outcome) and any other themes which she finds relevant to the political career of the mentee. The approach of mentorship, and mode of communication will be decided by the mentor, to suit her best and most convenient schedule.

Peer Learning

Besides the mentoring process, all fellows will continuously connect engage with each other sharing their experiences aspirations. This activity which can be formal or informal will permit the fellows to form a robust political network, and a long lasting friendship. The AMD secretariat will also host panel discussions periodically on hangout to enable participants share their experiences and projects with members of the Board.

Redefinition

As fellows advance in their engagement with AMD, there definitely will be a point when mentoring is phased out, underscoring the need to redefine our engagement with them. This is going to be an open ended engagement with fellows aimed, in the cases possible, at mobilizing any additional support of responding to any challenges brought to the attention of the Secretariat.

Download the W2W Brochure to learn more

Profiling Muna A. Weah Weah: AMD Woman Fellow 2018

Meet the AMD Fellows of 2018. The AMD Fellowship for Emerging Young Women Leaders in Africa is a program designed to support and accompany young female activists and organizers aspiring to engage in politics in their countries by facilitating access to capacity building and mentoring opportunities.