The following is a post written by Global Programs Intern, Montana Mathieu.
Since 2008, Vital Voices has worked with members of our Global Leadership Network and alumnae of the FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program to organize mentoring walks that promote women’s leadership, spotlight the accomplishments of women in their local communities and create a bond across sectors and generations. Recently, two such walks in Tanzania and Ghana inspired hundreds of women across Africa.
Emelda Mwamanga returned to Tanzania as a mentee from the 2009 Mentoring Partnership program energized and determined to pay her experience forward. Introducing not only the idea of a mentoring walk, but the very concept of mentoring to many of the women and girls in her community, Emelda partnered with 2010 mentee, Irene Kiwia, and Ugandan public relations firm director, Remmie Male, to build a network of women and make her “dream take shape.”
Emelda’s dream was to host the next Tanzanian mentoring walk, as part of a series of walks hosted by alumnae of the program, who have organized simultaneous walks in countries across the globe since 2008.
Once the concept of mentoring was established with a retreat in November 2009, the walk became possible with the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and Deloitte, among many key collaborators. On March 7, 300 women exchanged parasols signed with encouraging words as 2010 Fortune mentee and rising young professional, Modesta Mahiga, delivered a stirring speech.
Following a triumphant band through Dar es Salaam, the walk was led by the Minister of State to the Presidential Office of Public Relations, Mrs. Hawa Ghasia. Key speakers at the walk, held at Karimjee gardens, included Joaquine De Mello, commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, Mama Milicent Obaso of Future Group, and Zurah Sinare Muro, director of Kazi Enterprises.
Throughout the course of the walk, 65 mentors and 130 mentees attended trainings and seminars to strengthen their mentoring ties, sharing dreams and experiences, tales of social and economic challenges and strategies for success.
At around the same time that Emelda and her team were organizing a walk in Tanzania, another 2009 program alumna, Brigitte Dzogbenuku, was hosting her second mentoring walk in Accra, Ghana. On February 27, 33 mentees and 29 mentors from all over the country spent 10 days with women leaders and youth for activities centered around the Mentoring Walk. Discussions and panels included topics like women’s healthcare and well-being, entrepreneurship, gender studies, resources for advocacy, and the challenges that businesswomen face as they try to balance social life and career development.
Inspiration abounded as Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Woode received participants in the Supreme Court with five other female Justices of the Republic of Ghana for a discussion on the challenges they face as women leaders. Felicia Gbesemete, director of Ghana’s first all-female legal firm, also held a question and answer session. Other sponsors, including Standard Chartered Bank and Allure Ghana, had a presence at the walk, and Expert Travels’ Executive Director, Monica Baeta, spoke about determination, entrepreneurship and managing the gendered workplace for sustainable growth.
The walk received widespread media attention and follow-up through Joy 99.7 FM and TV3 Network. Brigitte and her many volunteers emerged more motivated than ever to expand this form of solidarity throughout Ghana, hoping to invite 50 women in 2011.
In both Tanzania and Ghana, through the meeting of minds and the practice of mentoring over the past year, alumnae of the Mentoring Partnership program have reached a greater network of rising leaders, paying forward their experience and knowledge in their communities.