Ghanaian academic named recipient of African Man of the Year Award

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Aude de Thuin, the founder of Women in Africa (WIA) (Left) and Radia Cheikh Lahlou, Managing Director of Déclic (Right) present The inaugural award for Dr. Patrick Awuah, the founder and President of Ashesi University in Ghana who was not present at the summit to receive it as it was the start of the school year at the firt Women in Africa Summit, which took place in Marrakech, Morocco last week. Handout photo/WIA

 MARRAKESH, Morocco – A Ghanaian academic has been named as the the African Man of the year Award for his exceptional commitment in helping promote the role of women and gender equality in the African socio-economic landscape.

Dr. Patrick Awuah, the founder and President of Ashesi University in Ghana has won the award by Women in Africa (WIA)– an unprecedented global initiative to encourage international and pan-African companies to identify, bring together and support women’s talent. The inaugural award for Mr. Awuah who was not present at the summit to receive it as it was the start of the school year was presented at the first Women in Africa Summit, which took place in Marrakech, Morocco last week. 

Dr. Patrick Awuah opened his university in 2001. Photo courtesy/BBC

The African Man of the Year Award which was developed by the WIA initiative in partnership with Déclic, a CSR consulting firm, highlights the exceptional commitment of men who help to promote the role of women and gender equality in the African socio-economic landscape.

At Women in Africa, we are convinced that if we want to create a society that ensures equal representation of men and women in leadership and governance,,” said Aude de Thin, President of Women in Africa. “We cannot and should not exclude men from the conversation. Men hold 90% of the power, so it is imperative that we work together, men and women, hand in hand. This is how the idea of ​​the African Man of the Year Award was born. It’s a way to spotlight a man who, through his actions, contributes to the empowerment of women and the promotion of women’s leadership.” she said at the summit.

Dr. Awuah founded Ashesi University in 2002 to strengthen the capacities of young people in Ghana and Africa and help them increase their chances of achieving leadership positions in their countries.

Fifteen years after its inception, Ashesi University has a gender-balanced campus with 48% female students. The university also offers an inclusive engineering program, where women represent 40% of the freshman and 33% of the sophomore engineering classes.

Dr. Awuah has also designed a curriculum intentionally aimed at including the perspectives of women, including implementing summer high school programs that inspire girls to pursue careers in science and engineering; funding more scholarships for women; and providing mentorship and counseling necessary to help women succeed in college and in their subsequent careers.

Gender inequality costs Africa $95 billion a year. The inclusive development of the continent would not happen without the effective involvement of women. For this to happen, women must be recognized for the responsibility they bear on a daily basis, but also for the impact they have on the inclusive development of the continent,” noted Radia Cheikh Lahlou, Managing Director of Déclic.  “Through the African Man of the Year Award, we sought men who involved women in the leadership of their organizations in an effective and formalized way. Without claiming to have had a comprehensive approach to covering the 54 countries and all the men in these countries, we have succeeded in identifying one whoreflects this idea by adopting a very clear methodology and extremely demanding criteria: a man who is African and who is active on the continent; who has formalized an approach to integrating gender equity in the governance of his organization; and who, in addition, has influence outside the walls of his organization in support of gender equity.

The start of the school year did not permit Dr. Patrick Awuah to attend the award ceremony in Marrakech, but we are planning to go to Ghana to present the award in person. This will also give us the opportunity to organize our first ‘Back from Morroco’ event toshare the results of the Women in Africa Summit collaborative labs on the major challenges of the Millennium: energy, entrepreneurship, nutrition, agriculture, finance, and water,” added Aude de Thuin.

African Man of the Year Award Methodology Selection criteria

The winner was selected on the basis of three criteria:  1.     Nationality (the winner must be from Africa); 2.     Specific support of gender equality: at least 30% representation of women in his organization, a gender equity approach, and the strengthening of women’s capacities in the organization;3.     Impact and influencein his particular sector,with specific action to raise awareness of the cause of women or initiatives supporting women.    The research process focused on identifying relevant profiles through the analysis of African and international press articles highlighting gender initiatives; reports and surveys on the representation of women in  leadership positions; and international rankings of influential African men and innovative companies.   Upon completion of this research, 37 profiles were identified from 25 African countries. These ranged from the public, private and civil society sectors and spanned diverse industries: agriculture, telecommunications, finance, education and health, among others. Based on the criteria outlined, five finalists were then selected and assessed by the jury to determine the winner.

Members of the International Jury

The inaugural African Man of the Year Award jury was comprised ofsix influencers: Estelle Youssoufa (journalist and international business consultant), Evelyne Tall (Group Chief Operating Officer at Ecobank), Yacine Diama Fal (Resident Representative, African Development Bank), Abdou Diop Mazars(Managing Partner, Mazars Audit et Conseil), Fred Swaniker (Founder and CEO, African Leadership Network), and Arnaud Liguer-Laubhouet (Senior Vice President, Africa Edmond de Rothschild Group). The jury was asked to vote on the fivemen nominated, using a questionnaire formulated on the basis of a 5-point rating system. This system measured level of commitment to the inclusive development of Africa; women’s rights and gender equality; and achievements in capacity building and the integration of women in the governance of their organizations and in their respective sectors.

 

About Women in Africa

Women in Africa (WIA) is an innovative initiative that aims to encourage international and pan-African companies to identify, bring together and support female talent. WIA is convinced that women and men together must build a more sustainable and inclusive world. The reins of the initiative were entrusted to Aude de Thuin, specialist in women’s issues on the subjects of economy and society, founder of the Women’s Forum. It is supported by influential leaders on the continent such as Ismaël Douiri, CEO of Attijariwafa Bank; Nigest Haile, founder of Cawee Ethiopia; Nayé Bathily, Director, World Bank, all members of the WIA Advisory Board, and ambassadors representing WIA on the continent including Patricia Nzolantima, DRC; Candace Nkoth-Bisseck, Cameroon; Irene Kiwia, Tanzania; Tessy Kayitana, Rwanda; Hafsat Abiola, Nigeria; Mariame Fonfana, Cote d’Ivoire and Hindu Ibrahim Oumarou, Chad.

 

The three pillars of WIA are:

  • WIA Institute: A producer and catalyst of studies on women in the African economy. This is a necessary step to track the evolution of the Summit’s actions. The Institute also provides industry and thematic reflection laboratories (WIA LABS) that ultimately produce reports, recommendations and concrete action plans.
  • WIA Club: A membership community that convenes throughout the year, as well as a digital platform and HR program that provides research, talent placement and helps to identify leading African women for international board positions.
  • WIA Philanthropy: An endowment fund to encourage and support start-ups run by young African women. WIA Philanthropy promotes education in the field of economic development and training through innovative channels and networks.

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