It is my greatest honour and great privilege to address this distinguished
convocation of the 2021 Atlanta Diaspora Summit facilitated by the global
leadership of the African Women in Leadership Organisation. Certainly, in
comparison with previous editions of the African Women in Leadership
Organisation’s Atlanta Diaspora Summit, the 2021 edition is unique for
several reasons. First, it is taking place in the very middle of throes of a
global pandemic which has gotten public health systems across the world
on their feet. Campaigns and concerted efforts, including scientific,
political and religious, are rallied to bring the pandemic under reasonable
control. From public health policies to prayers and scientific interventions
in the forms of protocols and vaccination, the world has witnessed an
epoch-making biological and health crisis which has effectively brought

together people from across climes and countries, occupations and
vocations as well as across creeds and callings.
In addition to the preceding observation, this year’s edition of the African
Women in Leadership Organisation’s convocation of the Atlanta Diaspora
Summit happens to be taking place in the aftermath of the November 2020
presidential election of the United States of America, which saw in its wake
the emergence of the first woman of colour as the executive Vice President
of the United States of America, in the person of Her Excellency Ms. Vice
President Kamala Harris. This outcome is indeed a great and global
testament to what is possible when women get in the trenches of political
participation and public affairs and administration, just as the theme of the
2021 edition has already captured in these few words: ‘Towards Inclusive
Governance: Women’s Participation in Public and Political Affairs’.
Fortunately, it also a time when global statistics tend to favour womenfolk
across diverse disciplines and vocations, including politics and public
health. Earlier in the year, I have addressed a convention of women, telling
them of how, according to a report by the Union for the Mediterranean,
women have been found to be at the vanguard of the battle against the
COVID-19 pandemic, risking their lives to save others. Indeed, in the
context of the global pandemic, this wide-reaching crisis has demonstrated
that many decision-making bodies, including those established specifically
to manage the pandemic, have not adequately reflected a gender balance
between women and men.

Currently, women are said to account for 70% of the health and social care
workforce and deliver care to around 5 billion people. Nonetheless, they
remain largely segregated into lower-status and lower-paid jobs and are still
under-represented in leadership and decision-making processes. 70% of
executive directors of global health organizations are men and only 5% are
women in low-income and middle-income countries. Additionally, women
health workers are regularly subjected to discrimination, abuse and
harassment, a situation that has worsened with COVID-19.
Nevertheless, in spite of these myriad challenges and limitations pressing
against women’s chances to excel across different fields, the resilience and
resistant nature of women has brought about the much-needed sense of
balance and equilibrium to social, cultural, political and economic affairs
across the globe. From Vice Presidency of Kamala Harris in the United
States to the massive global support and rally for Aung San Suu Kyi in
Myanmar and the much-celebrated success of Chancellor Angela Merkel in
Germany as well as the new women-led government of Her Excellency
Samia Suluhu Hassan in United Republic of Tanzania, women have shown
great grits and strong ability and capability as well as firmness of character
to narrow, and indeed thin out, the gender divide that has constituted a
perpetual and figurative “Wall of Antoninus” which protected the interests
of patriarchy and masculinity against the potentialities and possibilities of
womenfolk for ages. Little wonder that the American journalist, writer, and
activist, June Jordan, wrote that “The only leadership I can respect is

one that enables every man and woman to be his and her own
Therefore, as women and womenfolk journey ‘Towards Inclusive
Governance: Women’s Participation in Public and Political Affairs’, it
becomes more imperative for women across the world to advance their
voice in governance through more active participation, pragmatic public
engagement, purposeful leadership and strategic positioning in political,
social and economic contexts of global and national affairs. Women must
continue to rally the advantage of their numerical strength to the advantage
of their gender and allied political interests. Women must strategically
position themselves through political parties that represent their ideological
interests and political aspirations. They must, in this day and age, give
expression to their capacities, capabilities and potentialities regardless of
dominant social, political, cultural, racial or religious orientations or voices.
To pursue this potential and possible future in politics and public affairs,
women must mobilise their power to mentor more women and girls in this
political journey towards a more representative politics. Women must be
willing to cooperate and collaborate to galvanise human and material
resources and put their money where their mouth is. As the French
scientist Louis Pasteur has noted, “Chance favors only the prepared
mind.” In essence, women must prepare and keep being circumspect to
identify the right opportunities when such do present themselves. And,
finally, as the American Business Management writer, Gary Hamel, has

once written, “Challenging the status quo has to be the starting point
for anything that goes under the label of strategy.” Women in this age
and time must not relent in their quest and practice of challenging the
status quo. This is almost the one single way by which the long-awaited
change in politics and public affairs can be brought about with acceleration.
It has happened before and the examples abound. IT CAN HAPPEN

It is on this motivational note that I welcome each and every participant
and conference attender to this auspicious convention and strategic
summit. Do not hesitate to explore all the great attraction that Atlanta and
environment have to offer. This is part of a life-long education and
tourists’ attraction. As I have often said, and in light of the theme of the
2021 Atlanta Diaspora Summit and the vision of the African Women in
Leadership Organisation, let one tell one and let all help all as we form a
chain of formidable network to accelerate the actualization of inclusive
governance through women’s participation in public and political affairs
and towards an envisioned world of equitable political participation and
equal opportunities.
Long live the African Women in Leadership Organisation
Long live the United States of America
Long live womenfolk
Long live the world

Thank you for your attendance!

Dr. Elisha Attai,
Founder, African Women in Leadership Organisation