Change and new beginnings for twelve women after ten-month leadership journey

By Helga Wenhold

The development of leadership skills within organisations that assess how governments manage their financial resources is critical. As external accountability institutions, supreme audit institutions’ (SAIs) principle task is to examine whether public funds are spent economically, efficiently and effectively in compliance with existing rules and regulations.

The African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), an Africa-wide network promoting the exchange of ideas and experiences among member SAIs, has developed a Gender Strategy focusing on 1) supporting women to rise to decision-making positions, 2) the establishment of gender mainstreaming in SAIs, and 3) gender as criteria in audits. With this background, AFROSAI and GIZ’s Good Financial Governance in Africa programme developed the Women Leadership Academy (WLA). The ten-month WLA combines three face-to-face workshops in Gabon, Germany and South Africa with coaching, mentoring and networking throughout. During the course of the pilot WLA edition each participant implemented a strategic reform project that addresses a specific challenge in her SAI to strengthen the participant’s visibility within the institution.

In November 2016 the third and final module was hosted by the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA in Pretoria. Its objective was to assess and evaluate the implementation of the respective projects and ensure their sustainability. The week started off with a reconnection session where the women reflected on the second module that took place in June in Bad Honnef, Germany. Among their highlights were not only the exchanges with the German SAI, the Bundesrechnungshof, and the European Court of Auditors, but also the leadership dialogues with Cornelia Richter, GIZ Managing Director, and Marita Brömmelmeier, Head of the GIZ Africa Department.

The third module completed the leadership journey with training on cultural intelligence and cross-boundary leadership as well as presentation skills and a dialogue on African Leadership with Dr Willem Fourie from University of Pretoria. On the third day leaders from AGSA, among others the Deputy Auditor General, Ms Tsakani Ratsela, shared key aspects of their personal career development as female leaders and invited the group to visit the AGSA office in Brooklyn. Towards the end of the workshop the participants reflected on their personal growth and development over the ten month leadership journey. For all women it consisted of both ups and downs; like the excitement of travelling to new places, but also frustration when colleagues and management would not give the necessary support at times.

In spite of the obstacles faced, all participants were in agreement that they have developed into leaders and are now ready to assume responsibility in their institutions.

On the last day the women presented their strategic reform projects and answered questions posed by a jury. The jury committee assessed each presentation and awarded marks. The women were then recognised and celebrated during a closing ceremony held by AGSA which was not only attended by representatives of GFG and AFROSAI, but also by the Auditor General Kimi Makwetu, a representative of SAI Gabon as one of the WLA hosts, a representative of SAI Chad as President of the Francophone linguistic subgroup CREFIAF, and the German Embassy Head of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr Volker Oel. During the ceremony the participants received their certificates and three were honoured for their excellent strategic reform project implementation (Nthanyiseni Dhumazi, South Africa, Nathalie Nguema Zuedzang, Gabon, and Lucie Kompaore Tindano, Burkina Faso).

For AFROSAI and GIZ this pilot course was in itself a learning experience. The beginner group gave valuable and constructive feedback on content, structure and certification of the programme. These will be enriched by the findings of an external evaluation of this human capacity development format and taken into account in the conception of a possible second WLA. For more information please download the WLA participants’ brochure: https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/giz2016_en-fr-WLA_Participants_Brochure.pdf

The Good Financial Governance in Africa programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU).

Contacts: Barbara Dutzler (barbara.dutzler@giz.de) or Julia Bastian (julia.bastian@giz.de)

                                                        
An exchange with Marita Brömmelmeier at GIZ Bonn (Photo © GIZ)
                                                        
The strategic reform projects were assessed by a jury comprising representatives from AFROSAI, AGSA, GIZ and University of Pretoria. © AGSA
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