40 young African women embark on a transformational career journey towards a sustainable Africa

April 7, 2022

Image: UNDP Regional Programme for Africa

The African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized an induction workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 40 young African women selected for the African Young Women Leaders (AfYWL) Fellowship Programme. The 1-year Fellowship Programme aims to position young African women to serve the continent and the world through the design and implementation of development programmes within the context of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Selected from a pool of 5,254 applicants, the 40 AfYWL Fellows represent less than 1% of the total applications received. Drawn from 22 African countries, the Fellows will be deployed to 27 UNDP offices in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States and work towards advancing the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 in the areas of climate change, energy, youth and women’s issues, economic transformation, peace and security and more.

This is to enable them to gain valuable work experience as the next generation of African women or global leaders.

The Fellows were taken through an extensive 1-week onboarding workshop organized by UNDP and AUC from 28 March to 1 April 2022 to orient them on the work of the AUC and UNDP ahead of their deployment.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, congratulated the Fellows and noted that the AfYWL Fellowship Programme was born out of her hope and optimism to harness and realize the potential of a new generation of young African women leaders to serve Africa and the world, as a pathway for achieving sustainable development.

“This is the beginning of a transformative leadership journey for these young women,” explained Ahunna Eziakonwa. “They will become voices for Africa’s youth, with one mission: to enhance their know-how over the next 12 months, enjoy the experience, while creating the new ideas that will transform Africa across the public and private sectors. These young women are shaping the futures of their communities and countries.”

The Regional Director also seized the opportunity to express her gratitude to His Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, for lending his full support to the establishment of the Programme in 2019 and to Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, AUC Deputy Chairperson, a champion of the innovative Programme since her assumption to office in 2021.

The African Young Women Leaders (AfYWL) Fellowship Programme is aligned to UNDP’s priorities for Africa and also builds on the AU’s “1 Million Next Level” initiative that seeks to connect 300 million young Africans to opportunities in education, employment, entrepreneurship, engagement and health and wellbeing.

The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa emphasized the urgent and important need to unleash the potential of young women in Africa, especially given that over 70% of Africa’s population is made up of women and youth.

She also reiterated the African Union’s commitment to empowering and accelerating the growth of women in Africa. She cited the AU Women and Youth Financial and Economic Inclusion Initiative (WYFEI 2030) and the 1 Million Next Level initiative as some of the mechanisms the AU is employing to unlock opportunities for women and youth in the continent.

Investing in women is not a vanity project for the African Union Commission, it is urgent and important, and it leads to positive development outcomes for our beloved continent.”

The Fellows expressed their gratitude to the AUC and UNDP for the opportunity and expressed their optimism that the 12-month journey will have a significant impact on their careers and personal development.

“This is a dream come true for me. The African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Programme is a huge platform for me to showcase that as a woman, I can be bold, confident and climb the leadership ladder”, said Tamiwe Kayuni, a Fellow from Malawi who will be deployed to the UNDP Country Office in Kenya.

Established in 2019, the first AfYWL cohort consisted of 21 Fellows selected from 20 African countries and deployed to 20 UNDP offices globally. The Fellowship is one of the core initiatives by the AUC and UNDP to invest in global women leadership, promote African expertise and build an Africa-wide network of outstanding young women professionals to spur innovation, South-South cooperation and development exchange. 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ms. Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu, Communications Officer, AUC Youth Division: AdjeiduP@africa-union.org

Ms. Michelle Mendi Muita, Regional Programme Communications Specialist, UNDP: michellemendi.muita@undp.org