Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Asha Guled on African Women Rising to Power

November 27th, 2018

'Given my upbringing as a Somali diaspora in Europe (Holland), I can particularly relate to Ilhan Omar. It’s impressive to see that despite her immigrant background, she has succeed in climbing the ladder – a very steep ladder… and I ask myself, how can I similarly challenge myself to climb this ladder?'

As the Chairperson of ALAMAU 2019. Asha Guled (Class of 2017, Somalia) can draw inspiration from the few women who have shattered the glass ceiling and are highlighting the need for greater gender parity in politics – and shares her insights on powering through to bring about change.   

Recently, the news has been dominated by the increasing number of women now represented in the US Congress. Sharice Davids, the first Native American congresswoman; Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim-American; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest member to ever be elected to the House, and of course, Ilhan Omar, the first Somali congresswoman.

It’s great to see women gaining a more assertive voice around the world – but how about the voice and presence of our women across the continent? Are their voices also being heard?

If we turn to Ethiopia, you may argue yes. Earlier this month, Ethiopia swore inits first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde. Her entrance to office was succeeded with the appointment of 10 more female ministers, placing Ethiopia as the third African country to achieve gender parity in its cabinets. Despite the fact that her position is largely symbolic, seeing that the prime minister holds executive power, her appointment still makes a bold statement on the growing empowerment of women in African politics.

As pan-Africanists, or simply as Africanists, we must ask ourselves how we can recreate such a sentiment in our respective countries. How can we come closer to accomplishing gender parity, not only in our cabinets, but in every aspect of our life?

At ALA we are fuelled to think big, and it is my dream to witness gender equality across the continent, especially in politics. But to step away from the big picture for a second, it may be good for us to start somewhere small. Many of you reading this are parents, or young adults in general, and as such, an important responsibility lies on your shoulders: what are you doing to help raise the next generation of Zewdes, the next generation of Sirleafs, the next generation of Fatoumata Jallows? If many of you are unaware of some of these names, it’s a strong indicator that much needs to be done to allow you to fight this challenge that is facing our continent.

Stepping up

I am similarly responsible for rolling up my sleeves and partaking in amplifying the voice of women in Africa, and the world. Given my upbringing as a Somali diaspora in Europe (Holland), I can particularly relate to Ilhan Omar. It’s impressive to see that despite her immigrant background, she has succeed in climbing the ladder – a very steep ladder… and I ask myself, how can I similarly challenge myself to climb this ladder?

My answer: I’ve started.

alamau 2017
Asha MAU
MAU

ALAMAU 2019 is the sixth annual iteration, with me being only the second female Chairperson to lead the conference. Apart from the overall team of 33, the MAU Secretariat consist of 7 executives, of which 5 of us are female. As you can tell, female power is definitely in the air in ALAMAU. It’s challenging to manage such a team, but I am thankful each day that I have this opportunity to stretch my leadership capabilities – it takes me one step closer to becoming the next Ilhan Omar.

As our preparation for ALAMAU 2019 is in steady motion, we will seek to boast no less than than 350 participants from across the continent and beyond. This 100-member increase from ALAMAU 2018 takes the 2019 conference to beyond original projections – and with registration still open, that number could increase significantly.

Find out how our delegates will unravel our 2019 theme of ‘Leveraging Africa’s Progress for Sustained Growth’, and visit www.alamau.org as well as our social media pages to get a sneak peak into how young African girls, and boys, are currently becoming more involved in the continent’s politics to get one step closer to becoming the changemakers of our future.

Meet the Team

ALAMAU 2019 Organisers
ALAMAU 2019 Organisers
ALAMAU 2019 Secretariat
ALAMAU 2019 Secretariat


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This is an article from the ALA Journey Journal – the blog that tracks our 50 year journey to develop 6000 leaders. Visit the Journal here.


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