Ambassador’s Remarks at Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership Reception

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, Ambassador Robert P. Jackson hosted a reception for alumnae of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. The program connects talented, emerging women leaders from all over the world with members of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders for a four-week-long program. Past participants from across Africa came together in Accra for an alumnae workshop. During the reception, Ambassador Jackson congratulated the alumnae on their success and challenged them to think about how to pay it forward.

Visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs website to learn more about the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership.

Fortune/State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership Alumnae Reception
Remarks by Ambassador Robert P. Jackson
Chief of Mission Residence, Accra
November 14, 2017 | 6:30 p.m.

Good evening. Babs and I are honored to welcome you all to our home — distinguished guests, colleagues, alumnae, mentors, Vital Voices staff, and all those associated with the mentoring program.

I am so pleased that Vital Voices and our State Department colleagues chose Ghana to host this gathering of alumnae of the Fortune Global Women’s Mentoring Program. I hope you are all enjoying the culture and cuisine of Ghana just as much as Babs and I do.

I want to recognize Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Chris Miner. Chris, special thanks to you for making the journey here with Vital Voices. Your presence underscores the United States’ commitment to empowering women as entrepreneurs. I’d also like to recognize our mentors, Kim Kingsley and Rahama Wright. True leaders never forget where they came from. Thank you for your commitment to developing the next generation of women leaders.

But our real guests of honor tonight are the alumnae of the mentoring program. Would you raise your hands, please? Let’s give them a hand.

You are pioneers — women business leaders who are building strong economies and civil societies in your countries. Trailblazers who are transforming the African continent. It is our privilege to bring you together to reconnect, to network and to share ideas — especially about how to “pay it forward.”

One way, of course, is to be a mentor yourself. I have no doubt that the next generation of aspiring African business women is already looking up to you, and counting on your guidance and support.

In Ghana, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of the workforce is employed in the informal sector. I’m sure many of you see similar statistics in your own countries. And who makes up the majority of those working in the informal sector? Women, of course. Hard-working women in small shops, in the open markets, in food stands along the streets, in the clothing and textile industry, in many other small businesses, and, certainly, on small farms.

You now have a special responsibility to identify young women around you with entrepreneurship potential — to lift them up and empower them.

Another way to pay it forward — and to empower those young women — is to advocate for the transparency and anti-corruption initiatives that lead to a flourishing private sector. You are savvy business women. I don’t have to tell you that every dollar lost to corruption means fewer schoolbooks to educate the future workforce, fewer roads to transport goods, fewer investors to create jobs and stimulate growth. You can be the voice that speaks up for what’s right, that speaks up for justice.

Or maybe your path will be to run for office yourself. Maybe some of you have, or have thought about it. You can shape the good governance policies that will help your countries and your economies to thrive.

I’m sure you each have ideas about how you will make your mark. That is what the Mentoring Program is ultimately about: empowering you to forge your own path, to be bold, to say “I can do anything — and I will. And I will pay my blessings forward.”

However you choose to do so, know that I admire your passion and your vision. I would love to hear more of your stories tonight. I want to thank Vital Voices once again for its leadership and efforts in making this program possible. We are grateful for your commitment to inspiring women around the world to reach their full potential.

Thank you.