2022 Africa Women’s Sports Summit: Keynote address by Ghana’s Second Lady H.E Samira Bawumia


Theme: Be The Change

Scope: Sports Leadership in Africa and building stronger institutions

Good morning everyone,

It is an honour to be part of this year’s Africa Women’s Sports Summit and to deliver the Keynote address. As a passionate advocate for the development and empowerment of women, this was an invitation I was happy to accept. It warms my heart to see so many young and talented ladies taking part in this summit.

Let me begin by congratulating Ghana’s Evelyn Badu, who made our nation proud by winning two prestigious awards; the CAF Women Youth Player of the Year and the CAF Women Inter-club Player of the Year at the recent CAF Awards in Morocco; the South African Women National Soccer team (Bayana Bayana) for winning the first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) and Tobi Amusan for winning gold and breaking the world record in the 100-metre hurdles at the World Athletics Championships.

I would like to also commend Juliet Bawuah and her team, for championing women’s sports on the continent through initiatives such as this summit.

This year’s Africa Women’s Sports Summit affords us the opportunity to also address issues relating to sports leadership in Africa and building stronger institutions.

The theme for this year “Be the Change” is appropriate and timely. Timely because the global push for greater involvement by women in sports, after decades of being side-lined in the sporting sphere, has engendered a similar movement on the African continent. Subject areas such as formats of various women’s tournaments, equipping and empowering women to hold sensitive positions in various sports, and resourcing athletes and teams to build their capacity and compete at the global level, has garnered more attention than ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, approximately half of the continent’s population is female. In terms of the working population, at the lowest artisanal and basic SME level, women are a dominant force. This is especially true in Ghana, where women own about 46.4% of businesses according to the 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs. Societal growth and development cannot be effectively achieved without significant consideration being given to women.

Sports provide opportunities for more women to reach their greatest potential. Sports has become a universal language, a common denominator that unites across national barriers and cultural differences. According to the University of London, the global sports industry has an estimated value of some US$600 billion per annum, making it one of the most successful sectors in the world. Unfortunately, women’s sports particularly, in Africa have not been given the same attention and investments as men’s sports despite its ability to challenge social norms, boost self-esteem and empower women and girls.

Deloitte [the global accounting firm] estimates that TV and sponsorship revenue for women’s sports are expected soon to eclipse one billion US Dollars globally. This, however, is a fraction of the global value of all sports (men’s, women’s, and mixed). Female sports continue to cry out for better sponsorship, media coverage, and tangible opportunities to be on equal footing with their male counterparts.

Investing in women’s sports, especially, in Africa has a key role to play in boosting the economy of African nations. Giving girls more sports participation clearly offers them an opportunity to have to build courage and self-efficacy.

Indeed, increased female participation in sports has proven to greatly benefit young female athletes physically and mentally as well as academically. As their belief in their own abilities increases, they drift much more towards taking up leadership positions, of course, which translates into their everyday lives.

Sports as a field, and by extension, a career path chosen by many women, sports, goes a long way to impact generations, both male and female. The transfer of knowledge and relevant skills and tenets, by major actors in the field of sports, especially women, conveys the deep conviction that it is possible to succeed in a viable endeavour.

Women at the height of their sports careers also provide direct or indirect mentorship to the younger generation of women, in reaching for the highest standards of their profession and practice.

The African woman sports professional, whether active or retired, journalistic or performance-based, has a role to play in establishing roles, procedures, and standards which culminate in the execution of critical functions in critical sectors of daily life and economies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it goes without saying that, the African woman in sports cannot begin to inspire change in their respective fields without strong institutions and she ought to be part of the building of these institutions. The change that Africa needs is for us women, who are on the frontlines in various fields of endeavour to have a seat at the table and ensure our issues are central to the discussion.

Therefore, ladies, I encourage you all to take up positions of influence, if an opportunity to serve avails itself, let us use it to help shape policy and influence decisions that affect us.

You do not have to look beyond Ghana and the African continent for inspiration. Within our country, you have the likes of Madam Habiba Attah, who has dedicated much of her life to promoting women’s football, and she is now an Executive Council member of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Farida Iddrisu, who was recently elected a Vice President of the African Swimming Confederation (CANA) Africa Zone 2.

On the African continent, there are the likes of Isha Johansen, former President of Sierra Leone Football Federation who is now a member of the FIFA Council, Nawal El Moutawakel – a member of International Olympic Committee, and Fatma Samoura, the first female General Secretary general. The African woman seeking to play a leading role in the structural reforms and administration of sports should take inspiration from these outstanding women.

In order to do so effectively, we must widen our horizons in knowledge and the acquisition of valuable skills that can make us globally competitive. This means we have to learn to be

diligent and thorough in every aspect of our lives. We need to be able to identify opportunities available to us. We have to learn to identify the qualities we need to become better. Our world is a competitive one, and in order to stay ahead, we must permanently strive to be the best we can be.

I would like to conclude by calling on all of us gathered and those following from home that the change we aspire to cannot be done by resting on our laurels. We must come together to create more. We must strengthen our institutions in order to do better. We are stronger when we come together. We must be the change to effect change.