Acceptance speech by Vivienne Yeda following the conferment of the Africa Female Economic Champion Award / Induction into the Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame 2014 at the Africa – Middle East – Asia Women Summit 2014
I am greatly humbled and honoured to be receiving the Africa Female Economic Champion Award – Banking. I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development, United Nations Economic and Social Council and CEO Clubs Network Worldwide for the honour and my induction into the Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame, 2014.
I dedicate this award to the millions of Africa women, who are working hard in various fields to feed families, maintain the social fabric and grow the economy.
I am proud to be standing among giants who have walked this path before me and who have shown with their achievements that there’s no limit to what women can accomplish if they believe in themselves. Time will not allow me to name all these outstanding women, many of them from sub – Saharan Africa, but I would like to thank them for showing our young girls that the glass ceiling has been broken. And whereas many girls are still limited by poverty, war, bad governance and retrogressive cultural practices, it is my duty to encourage them and let them know that no matter where they come from, Whatever difficulties they have endured, what really matters is the size of their dreams and the willingness to pay the price to make those dreams come true. Whatever passions you have, pursue them relentlessly and someday, it will lead you to a stage such as this one, where your achievements can recognised and honoured.
I recognise that I have not walked this journey alone. I have been supported along the way by my family, wonderful professional colleagues, partners and the dedicated employees of EADB, without whom, we won’t have achieved much.
Across Africa, women have made much progress in various fields – from politics to business to academia. If you ask anybody walking on the streets of Kigali, Nairobi or Lagos, they will tell you this is one area where we have made tangible progress. These developments have inspired a new generation of women to go for the ultimate prize – economic and political leadership. I am grateful that girls being born today will grow up in a society more accepting of their role as leaders and innovators in various spheres of life.
Despite the foregoing, a lot remains to be done. Women in some parts of Africa still have no right to ownership of property. They till the land and produce food but ultimate ownership remain with the men who are often free to transfer ownership for their own benefit without reference to women. As a result, women cannot access credit, which they need to set up small and medium enterprises to improve their lives and that of their families. It is an indictment on the policies and legislation, which are inadvertently or deliberately designed to prop up the largely patriarchal system.
I encourage governments across Africa to continue supporting the women’s cause, particularly with regard to property ownership and access to credit. Women do not expect to be given hand-outs. What they expect is an enabling environment to farm, run their businesses and access markets. They expect peace in their communities. They need a platform to shake the Continent, in a positive way.
Thank you for listening to me.