Will the Next Head of the Francophonie be a Woman?

As Abdou Diouf counts down his last days as the General Secretary of La Francophonie, six candidates are fighting to be crowned his successor. Among the six, one stands out, and all eyes are on her. Yes HER! For she is the only female candidate in the running….but this is not all!

The RH Michaëlle Jean is that candidate. Currently the Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, she has been running an active and progressive campaign in a bid to secure a win, and become Abdou Diouf’s successor. From setting up a promotional website in early September, to appearing on TV (L’invité show) , and partaking in diplomatic talks in New York, she has continuously shown herself as a passionate, motivated and capable individual, who is more than capable to meet any challenge the role may have to offer.

Michaëlle Jean affirms she adheres to the values of the Francophonie and considers the union of the seventy-seven countries that make it up, given their political and economic disparities, as a real field in which development issues can be addressed. Time has come for the Francophonie to focus on economic issues given its composition according to the former journalist of Haitian descent. Indeed in addition to being a melting pot for cultures, Francophonie unites members among the most powerful to sole of the poorest in the world.

In Michaëlle Jean’s opinion, “having lived in a country of great disparities” facing exile at a young age, to escape from an untenable political situation, offers her a greater insight to the struggles people from the South face. Additionally, her experiences as a refugee in Canada, and then as a Canadian citizen enable her to empathise, and better understand issues facing more economically developed countries.

All member countries of the Francophonie should be concerned about each one’s problems, despite their obvious differences in social, political and economic areas. The fact that more and more countries are on Economic transition on one hand, and the existence – particularly in West Africa and the sub-region – of “ministers who spread terror”, on the other hand are arguments that reinforce the idea that it is necessary to develop an “sharing ethic” she explained.

a8f482e84e01b15b417d175d6d20-473x315Michaelle Jean speaks at an International Women’s Day celebration in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH via Getty Images.  

Michaëlle Jean asserts that in order for Francophonie to gain moment, to develop, “women should be part of the equation”. This does not seem negotiable for the former feminist activist. In the upcoming summit in Dakar youth, and “women” and their involvement in development are key themes. Thus, offering Michaëlle Jean a fantastic opportunity to As UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti after the earthquake, Michaëlle witnessed first-hand the obstacles preventing the fluid translation of post disaster assistance theory into practice. An issue she was not afraid to address when questioned during a televised interview, in which she emphasised the need to establish “more focused” and “stronger alliances”. Asserting that the key to lasting development is integration, and open communication between the less economically developed and the more economically developed countries.

Michaëlle Jean states that her bid for the leadership has been encouraged and endorsed by many leaders. Africa needs to take a stand, make a difference, and be part of the change. This change not only involves providing support for young persons, but it also involves the representation of women in all aspects of society, including in positions of power and authority.

By: Mama Guirassy

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