As the sun sets over Dubai’s glimmering skyline, a powerful gathering of women leaders from across Africa and beyond draws to a close. Stepping into the grand halls of the Intercontinental Hotel, Festival City, Dubai, one is immediately struck by the palpable energy and sense of unity that fills the air. It’s a gathering unlike any other, where women of African heritage come together, not just to share knowledge and empower one another but to ignite change on a global scale, united in their mission and vision.

With soul music creating a warm ambience in the background, pockets of women make small talk over a cocktail as they await the commencement of a Gala Night, the customary close to the Annual International Woman Leadership Conference (TIWLC), a transformative event organized by the Ibukun Awosika Leadership Academy with support from Dubai’s Economy and Tourism Centre.

The energy and purpose pervading the room testify that the conference, in its third year, has delivered on its promise of transformation through stories of resilience, determination, and triumph that resonate, shared by speakers from all walks of life, from the boardrooms of multinational corporations to the grassroots of community activism.

Two days earlier, during the welcome and networking cocktail, TIWLC convener Ibukun Awosika officially delivered a powerful welcome message in which she emphasized the importance of learning, empowerment, and connectivity as three pillars of the conference.

Ibukun Awosika

“We need you to learn, we need you to be empowered, we need you to connect—the three pillars on which the conference is built,” said Awosika. “One is knowledge, and you must ensure to leave the conference learning everything you can. The other is power, which is in your connectivity. Every woman has power, but her power is useless by itself. When you connect the power of all the women, we create the superpower of women, and we can use that superpower to support every woman who wants to go somewhere.” she added.

What followed that address was a potpourri of enriching experiences through multiple sessions featuring an impressive lineup of pan-African and global speakers who shared life-changing insights and leadership experiences. Notable keynote speakers included former Vice President of South Africa and Chairman of Umlambo Foundation, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; former Executive Director/CEO of Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi; independent consultant at Dolika Banda INC, Dolika Banda; and His Royal Highness Sanusi Lamido (CON), Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the 14th Emir of Kano.

Plenary sessions were led by esteemed global business leaders such as British Politician and former Minister for London, Rt Hon. Nick Hurd; Associate Partner with McKinsey & Company, Kemi Onabanjo-Joseph; GM & Group Head, Investor Relations & Corporate Development at Zenith Bank PLC, Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani; Former Chair of the Board of Directors of Nokia Corporation, Risto Siilasmaa; former CEO of Uganda National Oil Company Limited, Founder & Managing Director of TIG Africa, Josephine Wapakabulo; and Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Coordination & Head, Central Delivery Coordination Unit, Presidency, Hadiza Bala Usman, among others.

Renowned global speaker, strategic leadership expert, minister, and author Dr. Sam Adeyemi anchored a leadership session titled “Leading with Courage for Effective Change” while Board Member for ICT & Innovation at TradeMark Africa, Lola Aworanti-Ekugo and Risto Siilasmaa engaged in a fireside chat, further enriching the conference experience.

Awosika and Adeyemi

TIWLC’s impact extends far beyond the walls of its iconic venue. The now-renowned conference has not just become a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change but a testament to the incredible potential of women leaders to shape the future of not just Africa but the world. The conference has united women leaders from across the globe, empowering them to drive positive change in their communities and beyond.

In a world plagued by inequality and injustice, events like TIWLC remind us that when women come together, anything is possible. As the delegates bid farewell to Dubai and return to their respective corners of the globe, they carry with them incredible memories and a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to driving positive change in their communities.

The 3rd Annual International Woman Leadership Conference may have ended, but its ripple effects will be felt for years. In a world hungry for transformation, women leaders are rising to the challenge, armed with courage, determination, and an unwavering commitment to creating a better future for all.

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