Speech by Dr. George Agyekum Nana Donkor, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EBID on the occasion of the International Women’s Day Celebration 2022
Good afternoon, Vice Presidents, Directors, and staff members herein present physically and remotely.
Today, we have the pleasure of once again participating in the worldwide celebration of the International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating women who work hard every day to achieve personal and professional goals. The date of March 8 was chosen for the celebration as it marks the day when women in Soviet Russia started protests for the right to vote which they were granted in 1917. The day acknowledges the value and the importance of women in our lives and all around the world.
Over the years, our International Women’s Day celebrations have been characterized by diverse expressions of appreciation to women, advocacy to drive awareness and policy direction and stakeholder engagement to ensure decisive actions which result in visible impact to change the narrative for the better. It is in the light of the above that I have chosen to engage you to drive home the importance of these special occasions.
“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)” This well-known and often quoted saying has been attributed to Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey (1875-1927) who was one of the African pioneers of his time who appreciated and championed the importance of women’s education and access to future opportunities in a male dominated world. It is a known fact that although most African countries joined the UN in the 1960s after attaining independence, with a few joining earlier than that or later, the first African female Head of State, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, addressed the UN General Assembly almost 46 years later in 2006. Joyce Hilda Banda of Malawi followed 6 years later in 2012, Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic in 2014 and most recently, Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia in 2019. The above quote and achievements are worthy of focus and evidence of the need to continually focus on exploring opportunities to ensure the unearthing of the potential of women to positively impact society for the better.
As a Development Finance Institution, this year’s theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, affords all stakeholder to act and rather than pay lip service to the critical value of gender quality at all levels of organisations. The theme further recognises the role of women who have taken up the arduous responsibility of adapting, mitigating, and responding to climate change and other social impacts, to create a more sustainable future for all. The theme to commemorate the International Women’s Day does not seek to belittle or erode the importance of men in society, neither does it seek to usurp any established order. The focus is the need to identify perceptions that are inimical to the proper development of women with a view to taking the needed actions to reverse those biases. It is to clarify to the world the importance of the development and partnership of men and women to make the world a better place.
It is on the back of this that I make a bold call for gender-equal boardrooms, gender-equal governments, gender-equal workplaces, and gender sensitive initiatives. The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) is making inroads to implement its gender policy to make the aspirations enumerated a reality. Let us all do our bit to recognize that the women we celebrate today are partners in our quest to transform ECOWAS communities. A gender-balanced World will bring the best out of humanity for the greater benefit of all.
“Let us make this International Women’s Day a moment to recall that we have the answers not just for Sustainable Development Goal 5 but for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 through the advancement of gender equality.
I wish all women, and particularly the hardworking women of EBID, a Happy International Women’s Day!!
God bless our women and God bless us all as we take steps to #BreaktheBias.