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Intergenerational Dialogue Essential for True Transformation among Women and Youth

(L-R) Dr. George Njenga - Dean Strathmore Business School, Mrs. Nardos Bekele Thomas, H.E Margaret Kenyatta, and Dr. Edward Sambili - ABTEI Chairman

First Lady of Kenya, H.E Margaret Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary Education, Amb. Amina Mohammed, and Mrs. Nardos Bekele Thomas – wife to the late Prof. Adebisi Babatunde Thomas – were among dignitaries who launched the International Women’s Day celebrations in appreciation of the Role of Women and Youth in Society.

With the theme: Inter-Generational Dialogue: From Plan to Action – Women and Youth Leadership for Social, Political and Economic Transformation of Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Kenyatta spoke of the future generation saying that intergeneration dialogue can be a tool which the country can adopt to unearth the potential of youth in  our society. “We need to serve the young people and strengthen our humanity through such forums,” she said.

In honor of the late Prof. Babatunde, Her Excellency recognized the efforts of dedicated men and women whose initiatives have been pivotal in the elevation of women and youth, who have yielded positive returns to society. Her flagship project, the Beyond Zero Campaign, continues to record immense success in Kenya’s marginalized areas where access to maternal care has been impoverished. Her (exemplary) works surrounding the initiative have been commendable, an initiative, she acknowledged, as one that resonates with the late Prof. Babatunde’s beliefs.

Through a written message, the former Liberian President, H.E Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acknowledged the work of the late Prof. Babatunde, inviting avenues for collaboration by having the Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Entrepreneurship Institute (ABTEI) inaugurated in regions across West Africa.

The objective of the dialogue, which brought together key leaders in Kenya and other parts of the world, is to invite experienced leaders of the older generation, young and future leaders in one forum to openly and candidly share the challenges of implementing the numerous national, regional and international strategies and policies. The dialogue will also allow the emergence of fresh and innovative ideas and solutions to the problems facing Africa.

Ms. Bekele spoke of the family’s passion and commitment to foresee the legacy of the late Prof. Babatunde. “The journey has been a transition of translating pain into progress, through the brilliant minds of the youth as witnessed today through the ABTEI Programme” She added; “Today, I understand that we have limited time to make an impact, and that cooperation and collaboration cannot be done by just the public sector or the private sector, but it has to start at an individual level. The most important legacy leaders can leave is in telling the youth the mistakes they made so that they can learn from them. Sustainable transformation can only take place when we share knowledge and experiences,”

The late Prof. Babatunde strongly believed that the economic independence of the youth is crucial in driving Africa’s economy. He also believed in the role women play in transforming society; as greatly epitomized through his scholarly work, philanthropy, and in his diplomatic work across Africa where he served in various capacities. It is also through the interconnectedness of intergenerational dialogue that he believed that the growth and sustainability of transformation can be achieved.

Since the event took place a day before International Women’s Day, every speaker acknowledged the participation of women in economic development in Kenya. Today, women in businesses, in both rural and urban areas, continue to have exemplary transformative effect on communal/ grass roots and nationwide economies.

Carole Kariuki, CEO Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), stated that women led businesses at 48% and from those businesses, 462,000 jobs have been created. “This clearly indicates the significant role of women empowerment. We are happy to be a part of this exciting journey where Women and Youth initiatives continue to have on weighty impact on the society,” she said.

Other speakers were: The Dean of Strathmore Business School Dr, George Njenga, Governor of Bomet County- Dr. Joyce Laboso, and CS Amb. Amina Mohammed.

As part of the intergenerational dialogue, there was an opportunity to celebrate women who have distinguished themselves as leaders in Africa. The highlight of the event was the ABTEI Leadership awards which saw the following women receive awards of honour:

H.E Margaret Kenyatta – First Lady, Republic of Kenya

Amb. Amina Mohammed – Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

Ms. Vijoo Ratansi – Ratansi Foundation & Vice Chancellor University of Nairobi

Ms. Sarah Karingi – Entrepreneur, Global Network Investments