Former president Joyce Banda (JB) on Tuesday met US Secretary of State John Kerry in Boston, USA and addressed students at Harvard University on threats to women’s leadership, democratisation and the rule of law in Africa.
In a statement, JB’s media assistant Tusekele Mwanyongo said the former president was in Boston at the invitation of the JFK Jr. Forum, which is part of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Institute of Politics (IOP).
Mwanyongo said Banda addressed students on challenges and opportunities that aspiring young people and women may face as they seek to take up leadership roles.
Said Mwanyongo: “Dr. Joyce Banda addressed the students on various broad themes covering her tenure, including her experience as a leader; the most important lessons for young people aspiring to become leaders; the place of gender in African leaderships; the structure and functioning of government and whether it is suitable in addressing emerging challenges; and life in a post-presidential role.
“She also discussed the broader implications of her experience and those of other Heads of States for democratic stability in Africa”.
According to the statement, JB also told the students that Africa has some of the world’s fastest growing economies in the world and that a new crop of African leaders determined to uphold human rights and good governance and fight corruption is emerging.
Furthermore, Banda called on ‘international partners’ to support African leaders who are determined to pursue a “different type of progressive politics and thinking” for Africa to achieve speedy social, economic and political development.
On her meeting with Kerry, the statement says the office of the US Secretary of State requested that the two leaders meet when they both addressed students at Harvard University.
Details about the meeting’s agenda are unknown, but JB told reporters after the meeting that they had “fruitful discussions”, according to Mwanyongo.
The JFK Jr. Forum is Harvard’s premier arena for political speech, discussion and debate. The most important feature of the forum is the requirement that all speakers participate in a question and answer session with members of the audience, a practice that invariably results in lively exchanges.