Women4Africa Speaks to Yetunde Odugbesan

W4A: From very early in life you have always managed to find yourself in leadership roles i.e. former President of Student Government and Student Ambassador of your high school. I see you emerging as one of Africa’s Great Leaders, what do you have to say about that?

Yetunde: I do believe that all of my past and present leadership positions are preparing me for something even greater. There are many areas that I am passionate about such as women and girl development, youth empowerment, human and social welfare and social entrepreneurship. I sit on various boards that are aimed at alleviating many of the social and economic issues in various African countries and I continue to see my work expanding in that area.

To be a great leader in any field, it takes dedication, knowledge, perseverance, excellent communication skills as well as the ability to execute your vision but most importantly it takes confidence and passion. The road to leadership is often daunting and lonely because you are following your mission and adhering to God’s purpose and calling in your life.

W4A: In a world where challenges are inevitable, what would you say drives or motivates you?

Yetunde: I always had and still have big dreams for my life. When I was in elementary school I would dream dreams of me becoming a President or flying around the world and at times I would stand in front of my bedroom mirror practicing acceptance speeches!

I believe that a very young age those thoughts, visions and dreams engulfed me and honestly shaped who I am. Although I had a wonderful well-rounded childhood and life but I also knew that I was different. I would see things differently than my peers and realized that a young age my passion for helping, public service and being able to lead was a distinct trait of mine.

The two things that motivate me are my passions-my burning desire to make a difference, to use my resources and opportunities to give back and the other is my purpose. I realized that I cannot run or hide from my God given purpose and I must do all that I can so at the end of the day every talent and skill that I have been blessed with will be used in a positive and impactful way. I also understand that to whom much is given much is required and that is how I live my life.

W4A: A vital part of your research has been analyzing the effects of corruption on basic citizen needs and human rights. Tell us a bit about that.

Yetunde: Currently I am working on my dissertation in Global Political Economy at Rutgers University-Division of Global Affairs as a Ph.D Candidate (ABD) focusing on political corruption and its affect on governmental performance and social services being delivered by local and state government.

Corruption affects the lives of many especially in countries that have high levels of corruption. It affects the manner in which decisions are made in all levels of government, as it manipulates political institutions, rules of procedure, and distorts the institutions of government.

The political and economic decay caused by corruption is most visible in areas where the government neglects to provide adequate healthcare, education, human security, good governance, government accountability, and basic infrastructure to support the development and vitality of the country.

It undermines democracy, breeds social, economic and political unrest, presents itself as an obstacles to reducing poverty, distorts national and international trade, threatens domestic and international security, the sustainability of natural resources, and compounds political exclusion.

All of these reasons and more have a direct impact on basic citizen needs further neglecting and abusing the human rights of many and disporportionally affecting women and girls.

W4A: Yetunde Global Consulting specialises in Leadership development and training. What, in your opinion, makes a great leader?

Yetunde: I believe that the best leaders have certain constant qualities. Great leaders are those who understand the importance of ethics and integrity in their profession and personal lives. Great leaders also have mastered the art of communication skills and strategies, knowing how to reach people who come from different walks of life, cultures, religions and more.

Another quality of a great leader is being able to be decisive and solve problems. Being able to see an issue and quickly find various solutions to that issue no matter the scale of the problem. Another great quality of a leader is to be personable–being able to relate as well as motivate people.

Also great leaders are often visionaries, they think outside the box and are often times able to execute their vision. Another great quality of a leader is that they are authentic. Last but not least, one does not have to be in charge to be a great leader. A great leader can motivate its constituents regardless of position.
W4A: What role do you think African women can play in fighting corruption in Africa?

Yetunde: Women play an extremely important role in the economic, political and social development of Africa. Women are already playing a critical role in advocating for more honest, committed leadership in Africa, perhaps because they and their families stand to gain tremendously from improved governance.

Studies have found that there is indeed a link between higher representation of women in government and lower levels of corruption. In order for African countries to improve in governance it will require free and fair elections that place truly committed leaders both men and women equally who are accountable to their citizens.

It will also require empowering African women as leaders and advocates and removing the legal, administrative and traditional barriers that impede their success. As policy-makers, women can bring a unique and fresh perspective to decision-making.

Through their role as care-givers in their families, women have an interest in ensuring that resources for areas such as health and education are spent wisely. There are countries who I believe have successfully emerged from conflicto through the leadership of a woman, such as Liberia and Mozambique.

They have also shown that putting women at the helm of reconciliation and recovery can turn even the most impoverished countries into beacons of progress in the fight against poverty.

W4A: Who are some of the great leaders who have inspired you over the years?

Yetunde: Some of the great leaders who I admire are Benzair Bhutto, for her resilience in the face of social and traditional pressure. She was the first Muslim woman elected to lead an Islamic nation and was one of the most complex, fascinating and inspiring figures in modern history. Her life and tragic assasination was a huge lost to the world. Former President Bill Clinton is also someone who I admire for his endless work in philanthropy and charity through the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.

I also admire Oprah Winfrey, she is an example of a self-made woman who continues to give back globally. She has been able to leave her imprint on the world by empowering women and girls all over world. President Barack Obama is a constant reminder that anything is posible through hardwork, dedication and faith.

And last but not least Nelson Mandela, for his focus, strong will and determination to ensure an end to apartheid and his resilience to devote his life to uniting his country which he successfully managed to do so after his release from an almost 20 year prison sentence. There are so many more leaders who continue to inspire me and serve as a role model and road map for my life.

W4A: Tell us one thing you love about Africa.
Yetunde: We are a force to be reckoned with.
Thank you for granting W4A this interview

For more info on Yetunde go to www.yetundeodugbesan.com

Follow Yetunde on twitter: @YetundeO

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