TIME100 Summit: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Danai Gurira on breaking barriers, bridging gender gaps

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Esha Saxena Mandala
Esha Saxena Mandalahttps://kigalidailynews.com
Esha Saxena Mandala has extensive experience as a freelance writer, journalist, and content strategist. She has over six years of editorial and inbound marketing expertise and is fascinated with creating wonderful content that is insanely useful and effective.

Happening for the first time in Africa, the much-awaited TIME100 Summit and Impact Awards kicked off on November 17 at the Kigali Convention Centre. It has convened international and regional leaders, influencers, and visionaries alongside members of the global TIME100 community to celebrate the recipients of the first-ever TIME100 Impact Awards Africa.

From the captivating traditional dances to being addressed by Africa’s first female president, and the impactful panel discussions, TIME’s celebration of 100 years in print is as remarkable as it sounds.

To mark the momentous occasion, TIME’s editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs expressed deep appreciation for what the publication’s achievement has accomplished over the years, and deliberately commended Africa’s progression, citing it as one of the reasons the summit is happening on the continent.

“It is an honour to be celebrating TIME’s 100th birthday and to have the summit in Africa for the first time. Africa may be the youngest continent but African youth are set to dominate the global workforce,” said Jacobs.

Following the opening address, a panel discussion was led by Aryn Barker, a TIME correspondent, with former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira, and South African social entrepreneur Sindy Zemura Bernard. The discussion was tailored around the theme “From Barriers to Breakthroughs”.

Sirleaf utilised the platform to share that despite the projection that universal gender equality will be achieved in the next 140 years if the community were to join forces and collectively work towards that goal, the target would be achieved sooner than the projected date and give way for other progressive goals to be set.

“In 2022 a report was made indicating that it will take 140 years to achieve gender equality to the fullest. I have seen things change this decade and I believe if we come together collectively, we can make that prediction happen sooner and set new goals,” Sirleaf said.

Furthermore, Sirleaf highlighted the need for more women to take up positions in power and elaborated that if men were to be more supportive, the equality gap would be bridged faster.

“I think male perspectives need to change and we should all empower one another to maintain the progress we have already made. I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to working for the promotion of women to higher positions of power in Africa and beyond,” she said.

One of the most outstanding contributions to the panel came from Gurira, the actress most known for her portrayal of Okoye in the Blank Panther movies. Gurira raised the issue that while the power of storytelling is inadvertently used for impact, tailoring the narrative along with what the West would like to consume takes away how authentic African stories are, and she urged storytellers to proudly own their stories.

“How we are perceived by the West affects how we perceive ourselves. I was shocked by how much playing a woman in Black Panther was perceived. I think confident people need to be surrounded by those who support them and not go to the West for assistance. We need to take ownership of our own narratives and be unapologetic about it. The answers are with the women on the continent and we need to amplify their voices more,” said Gurira.

With this summit, TIME has debuted the TIME100 franchise to Africa convening international and regional leaders for open discussions intent on finding solutions to some of the continent’s challenges.

The TIME100 Summit and Impact Awards Africa were developed with founding partner Rwanda Development Board.

 

Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira speaks at the event in Kigali. Courtesy
Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira speaks at the event in Kigali. Courtesy

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