Barnard gathered influential African women leaders for the College’s third annual Global Symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The event, Women Changing Africa, brought together exceptional women from across the continent—leaders in government, commerce, academia, media, and the arts—for a day of collaboration, networking and discussion, including two panels entitled, “Conversations on Leadership” and “Voices of the Next Generation.”

“Conversations on Leadership” highlighted some of the most established and influential women leaders from South Africa and the continent, including Governor Gill Marcus of the South African Reserve Bank; Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, a South African academic, activist, and former senior director of the World Bank; Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press; Senator Aloisea Inyumba from Rwanda; and Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission.

“Voices of the Next Generation” showcased women whose important work is inspiring a generation of young women to continue the progress achieved in Africa by leaders such as Marcus, Haffajee, Inyumba, Ramphele and Mokgoro. Panelists included:  Susan Mboya, founder and president of the Zawadi Africa Education Fund and general manager for Coca Cola; Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of LEAP Africa; Fiona Budd, managing director of the South African Ballet Theatre; and Nomfanelo Magwentshu, formerly chief operations officer of the Local Organising Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

The day began with introductory remarks from Maria Ramos, group chief executive of Absa Group, Ltd.

Event Transcripts

Read the full transcript of:

Opening Remarks

Panel One "Conversations on Leadership"

Panel Two "Voices of the Next Generation"

View video clips from the Symposium.

Leadership Panel

The following is a transcript of the video clips:

Barnard President Debora Spar: So we sat down last year, and we said, “Well, where do we go next?”  And we said pretty quickly, “It’s got to be Africa.”  If you look at the recent history of this continent, you see the incredible role that women have been playing, from Helen Suzman to Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, in driving change.  And if I can just throw a hypothesis out there in front of you: I would say not only are women part of the change in the African continent, they’re actually leading the change. 

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, a South African academic, activist, and former senior director of the World Bank:  So my generation in this country had the great fortune of turning the challenges of our environment.  I don’t need to repeat today life stories of the women around you because we share it.  We had to say, “This is what we inherited.  What are we going to leave behind?”  And it wasn’t easy.  We challenged the men, and the problem we have today, we have women’s organizations, women’s leagues, youth leagues that don’t challenge any idea that the struggle in our days was a struggle of ideas, of values, or of really wrestling with the contradictions, wrestling with the dilemmas. 

Governor Gill Marcus of the South African Reserve Bank:  So part of the question for me is we will need to understand the authority of leadership.  And for me, leadership is what other people bestow on you because they trust you, because when you are doing things and what you stand for and the way you act resonates with what they would like to see happen.  And that when that happens, they put upon you the burden or the responsibility of voice,

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro chairperson of the South African Law Reform CommissionI met one of my former academic colleagues, and he said, “My goodness.  So Yvonne, how does it feel to be in such an important position and have such high status?”  I looked at him very disappointed, and I said, “You know what?  I don’t think this has anything to do with a position of power; it is a huge responsibility.”  I, as a judge of the Constitutional Court, have an enormous responsibility, which I have to exercise collectively with my colleagues, and we owe it to the people of this country and to democracies around the world to do it just right. 

Words of Advice (Barnard President Debora Spar):  And I think if I can sort of pick up on what I’m hearing you all say, there are some fabulous bits of advice there, which are, in fact, very specific.  Know your stuff.  Know the facts.  Know your subject.  Develop the expertise.  There’s no shortcuts out there.  If you want to succeed, you have to know your area really well.

2011 Young Women's Leadership Workshop

Preceding the Symposium, on March 14, six Barnard students led the 2011 Young Women's Leadership Workshop for local students in Johannesburg.  To read more about the event and view photos, click here.


Barnard College's Women Changing Africa is sponsored by Barclays Capital, Barclays Wealth, Absa Capital, and Absa Wealth.

Barnard College gratefully acknowledges the generosity of patron sponsor Jennifer Oppenheimer.

Barnard College gratefully acknowledges the support of Dr. Andile Ngcaba, the Executive Chairman of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa.