Sierra Leone Football Association boss Isha Johansen attended a forum earlier this week, where she poured encomium on women folk who have excelled, and urged governments in Africa to do what they can to empower other women so that many more can spring up and excel in various fields.
Johansen was guest speaker at a forum on gender empowerment, called Voice Together, which was an initiative by some private sector organizations using the platform of the ongoing Commonwealth Summit in London.
Voice Together has the backing and support of the Nigerian first lady Madam Aisha Buhari, who was an invited guest at the Forum.
Mrs Buhari’s personal foundation (the Aisha Buhari Foundation) has been highly active in promoting the lives of the girl child in Nigeria, and using its Future Assured programme, has shown, according to her in her keynote speech delivered on her behalf by her Special Assistant Dr Hajo Sani, a commitment to raising standards of women in her country.
She pledged to use her good offices to open the doors to Nigerian women willing and able to come back to their country of origin to make a difference.
In Johansen’s address, she enjoined people to listen to and learn from her story – a story of her fearless entry into a male-dominated world (of football) and where she emerged as the only female Football Association president in Africa.
She reiterated that sports remained one of the most important areas through which the best, and natural leadership qualities of the woman can be expressed and demonstrated if harnessed effectively.
“It is a dream to see many women rise through the ranks of whatever sphere of work they choose to embrace, and to empower them to be able to fulfill themselves without fear of intimidation’, she said.
The CAF Executive Committee member used the event to speak about her own pet project – PowerPlay – which is a movement aimed at given African girls and women a voice; ‘a voice that will be loud, that will be heard and most importantly that will be listened to, in their rise to leadership roles’.
The event was well attended with representatives of Africans in Diaspora, women’s interest groups all having an input that concluded that the programme should not be a one-off talk shop but one that should be built upon and carried to the other countries of Africa for the locals to actually benefit from – a suggestion that Dr Hajo Sani promised to personally deliver to Mrs Buhari and act on positively.