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New generation of young African women are leading the way

08 March 2016

New generation of young African women are leading the way

Beatrice Muliahela is part of a trailblazing new generation of young African women who are dedicating their lives to bringing about the change that they want to see across the continent.

Beatrice, 34, has recently been selected to take part in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a scheme set up by the US government’s Obama Administration to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Here Beatrice shares what she has learnt about leadership:

"I love this quote by one of the greatest men, Mahatma Gandhi - 'Be the change you want to see in the world'. Successful leadership is about more than being listened to or followed. It is about leading by example, having a passion and purpose, taking risks and being committed to your cause.

Leadership is something I have been thinking about a lot since being selected to take part in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a programme launched by US President Barack Obama to empower the next generation of Africans to lead the continent forward.

Throughout the world Africa has often been portrayed as stuck in a cycle of poverty, but coming together with young people from 13 African countries* on a three-week leadership course at the YALI East Africa Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi (pictured above), I was struck by the incredible opportunities that lie ahead. Sharing our thoughts and experiences, we proudly painted a picture of OUR Africa – one that is full of potential, where positive things are happening every day, and where change for the better rests on the shoulders of each and every one of us.

In order for Africa to reach its full potential we need to adjust our mindset – and this is particularly true of women, who have a huge role to play in leading the continent forward through civic engagement. African women have their own voices but many don’t feel confident to share their opinions in the public arena. Women need to overcome this by encouraging and connecting to one another, and men must give us the respect and space we need to express our views.

To be successful leaders we also need to be passionate about what we are doing and have the courage to see things through. Ever since I was a little girl at school I’ve loved nature and my career has been dedicated to protecting the environment.

Today I am a natural resource specialist working with Farm Africa in Tanzania’s Nou Forest. Many people rely on the forest for survival and deforestation is a serious problem with huge numbers of trees being chopped down for timber, firewood and to clear grazing land for animals. Tanzania is losing forests at a disastrous rate of 300,000 hectares every year - around 1,500 football fields every day. As forest loss reduces water supply for local communities, they struggle to grow enough food to eat and turn to cutting down trees for income to survive – a vicious circle destroying the very resource they need to survive for the long-term.

Poverty is the main driver of deforestation so I work with local communities, teaching them how to make money through forest-friendly, sustainable businesses such as honey production. My role is to help communities identify ways to earn a living from the forest while protecting its resources for future generations.

Crucial to success is understanding and valuing the views of the people I work with. Sometimes you can come up with a solution to a problem but when you go into the field, it might not work as well as you had hoped. Only through taking into account the perspectives and needs of community members can sustainable, long term solutions be achieved.

Finally, to be good leaders we must make our own decisions and take responsibility for the results. Through YALI I realised that to be a Young African Leader, I mustn’t be afraid to try new things, to embrace innovative ways of thinking and to stand by my convictions. Rather than thinking outside the box, we should all be reinventing our boxes to bring about the change we want to see for the Africa of the future."

ENDS

 

Notes to editor:

Beatrice attended a three week leadership training course in February 2016 at the Regional Leadership Center East Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya. She will be returning to the centre in April for an additional week of training and a graduation ceremony. For more information on YALI go to: https://www.yalieastafrica.org/

 

For more information please contact:

Tara Carey, Farm Africa Media Relations Manager at tarac@farmafrica.org ; +44 (0)20 7841 5156 ; +44 (0)7971 556 340.

 

About Farm Africa:

Farm Africa reduces poverty by unleashing the ability of farmers across eastern Africa to grow their incomes in an environmentally sustainable way. We apply a practical approach to development, providing inputs, tools and expertise to enable farmers to double or triple their yields. We also help them to become more resilient to the effects of climate change, and to access markets so they can increase their income and build sustainable businesses.

With more than 30 years’ experience on the ground in rural Africa and 170 local staff, Farm Africa has a unique ability to spark change. For more information please visit www.farmafrica.org or follow us on Twitter @FarmAfrica .