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Commentary & Opinion
New Malawi President Joyce Banda Offers Women "Hope for a Better Future," but Donor Support Necessary

April 17, 2012

"On Saturday April 7th, Joyce Banda became Africa's second sitting female president," Lyndon Haviland, a senior strategy fellow at Aspen Global Health and Development, notes in this AlertNet opinion piece, writing, "President Banda offers women in Africa a second chance to experience women's leadership (Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's recent Nobel Peace Prize demonstrates what can happen when women lead) -- and for the women of Malawi that cannot come soon enough." As "[a] longtime advocate for women's health, education and gender equality, Banda offers women in Malawi hope for a better future," Haviland writes, noting, "As a founding member of the Aspen Institute's Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, Banda has been working on the international stage to accelerate progress toward universal access to reproductive health."

"President Banda knows that access to education and health will change a girl's future economic and social prospects," she continues. Haviland writes that Banda's "own life experience provides testimony to the importance of investing in girl's education, and providing access to health services including family planning," highlighting work Banda has done through her eponymous foundation. "With support from donors, she has the opportunity to take her programs to scale -- perhaps even making Malawi the first country in Africa to achieve universal access to reproductive health and have zero HIV-positive births by 2015." She concludes, "Donors should get a failing grade if we do not seize on the opportunity to support [the] President and the women of Malawi in this moment of transition" (4/13).

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