The Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) in collaboration with the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA) and the German Historical Institute Paris (GHIP), on Thursday, 16th February 2023, held a public round table discussion on the theme, “Positioning and Preparing Oneself for Leadership in Academia”. The well-attended event held at the J.H.K. Nketia Conference Hall at the Institute of African Studies and online via Zoom, saw distinguished female academics share their leadership experiences in academia over the years.

A cross-section of participants at the event.

Delivering the keynote address, the Provost of the College of Humanities, Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori, warmly welcomed all participants, both online and in person, to the event. He expressed his excitement at the continued efforts by MIASA, CEGENSA and GHIP in driving the female empowerment agenda of the University of Ghana. Commenting on the theme, the Provost expressed his delight at the choice of theme, given his desire to see women serve in the highest offices of academic and public leadership.
On the role of individuals in achieving the desired gender balance in society, Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori stated that many women despite the desire, are not ready to serve in leadership positions. He mentioned that they usually have a plethora of readymade reasons why they cannot offer themselves up to serve in leadership positions. Prof. Ofori emphasized, however,  that the barriers by themselves could not be broken unless they were forced to break. Hence, he maintained that individuals must be well prepared to break the barriers and be ready to make a significant impact since that is the only way by which the barriers can be broken. The Provost further urged participants to use the capacity they will acquire through the training sessions to good use and be ready to excel. He applauded MIASA, CEGENSA and GHIP for providing women across the African continent with these platforms to learn from one another and urged them to put the knowledge they would acquire to good use. 

The Provost, Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori delivering the keynote address.

The MIASA Co-Director (Ghana), Dr. Grace Diabah, welcomed participants and introduced them briefly to MIASA. She stated that MIASA is a unit within the College of Humanities that works in partnership with four German partners – the University of Freiburg, the Goethe University, Frankfurt, the German Institute for Global and Area Studies and the German Historical Institute Paris. She mentioned that the Institute, jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and the University of Ghana, offers time and space for innovative academic research projects of top international quality through an extensive fellowship programme, academic events, and open access for publications. It also promotes German-African research collaboration by developing an intellectual agenda as part of a research programme that runs under the thematic umbrella of “Sustainable Governance from an Inter-disciplinary Perspective”.  

Dr. Grace Diabah, Co-Director (Ghana) of MIASA delivering her speech.

Dr. Susann Baller, the German MIASA Co-Director, also took the opportunity to brief participants on MIASA’s activities at the continental level. She stated that MIASA organizes annual workshops for female academics from different countries in Africa. She added that the programmes focus mainly on coaching participants to become leaders and help many of them to identify and nurture their leadership potential. Dr. Baller thanked the Provost, College of Humanities and the Ambassador of Germany to Ghana for their continued support, as well as CEGENSA and all participants and guests who were present.

Dr. Susann Baller, MIASA Co-Director (Germany) delivering her speech.

Speaking on behalf of the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA), Dr. Deborah Atobrah, the Director of CEGENSA, expressed her gratitude to MIASA and GHIP for the collaboration and to the Provost, College of Humanities for his never-ending support for these centres. She went on to stress the importance of programmes of this nature given the significant role that they play in helping women to adequately prepare themselves for leadership roles. Dr. Atobrah also highlighted CEGENSA’s role in advocating for gender balance and gender sensitivity in academia and wished all the participants a fruitful discussion.

Dr. Deborah Atobrah, Director, CEGENSA.

Members of an all-female panel then took turns to share their experiences in leadership in academia. The three-member panel was made up of Prof. Awo Mana Asiedu, Ag. Dean, School of Performing Arts and Dr. Doris Akyere Boateng both from the University of Ghana and Dr. Jenny Mbaye from the University of London. The event took place from 9:30am to 12 noon and was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. 

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