April 19, 2024

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#BlackExcellence: Breaking Barriers to Female Leadership

The upcoming Global Black Impact Summit will champion the role of Black women in challenging norms and investing in the next generation of Black female leaders

Black women continue to break barriers across diverse industries, paving the way for future leaders with their resilience, intelligence and determination. The upcoming Global Black Impact Summit (GBIS), scheduled for February 27, 2024 in Dubai, is set to celebrate the remarkable achievements of Black women, while connecting movers and shakers from across the global Black community.

Black women play a crucial role in transforming industries, leaving an undeniable impact from entertainment to business, science to politics. In Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia’s first democratically-elected female president – has garnered international acclaim for empowering women, winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize and today advocating for female political participation. Meanwhile, Mozambican social scientist Alice Banze boasts a 25-year career in civil society and government and is the Executive Director of the Gender and Sustainable Development Association. Elected to the National Elections Commission in 2020 with support from the Women’s Forum, she exemplifies transformative female leadership in Mozambique.

Many women are rising through the ranks across industries by forging their own paths. One example is Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, the founder and CEO of DLO Energy Resources Group, who leads a Black women-owned renewable energy company that focuses on wind power projects in South Africa. Other figures like Oprah Winfrey, who has built a media empire, and Ursula Burns, the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, show the strength and determination of Black female leaders.

Yet despite their notable accomplishments, Black women in leadership often encounter systemic challenges to representation. In the US, Forbes reports that only 4.4% of Black women hold managerial roles, and merely 1.4% occupy executive-level positions, despite comprising 7.4% of the American population. In contrast, in Africa, women are making significant strides in governance roles. According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, four African nations—Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa and Senegal—are among the top 15 countries globally for the highest representation of women in parliament. Rwanda leads with an impressive 61.3% of female parliamentarians, yet the sub-Saharan African average stands at 23.6%.

The intersectionality of race and gender amplifies challenges in the workplace for Black women, necessitating targeted efforts to address and mitigate specific barriers to leadership. Initiatives centered on diversity, equity and inclusion are crucial for dismantling these barriers and creating a more equitable playing field. To achieve this, companies and organizations must implement policies that recognize the unique value and perspectives of Black women in their respective industries, fostering a more inclusive environment that provides equal opportunities for success.

Celebrating Black women in leadership requires creating a supportive environment for future leaders through mentorship programs, educational initiatives and networking opportunities. Investing in the next generation of Black female leaders contributes to a more diverse and dynamic future, which the upcoming GBIS 2024 will facilitate by providing a platform for engagement, inspiration and unity. 

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