Malawi leader President Joyce Banda says African first ladies could play a vital role in promoting peace and stability in the region if they are empowered.

The president said this before leaving for Nigeria, where she is attending the 7th African First Ladies for Peace Mission – AFLPM – Summit as the guest of honor.

“Since time immemorial, African first ladies have been sidelined in developmental agendas. But we now have to know that they too have a role to play in promoting peace and further advance Africa’s development,” President Banda told local journalist before flying to Abaju.

From Nigeria, the Malawi leader is expected to connect to the Republic of South Africa on another official visit.

In South Africa president Banda said she will meet the country’s leader Jacob Zuma.

Mrs. Banda is the second African female president, first in southern Africa.

At the first ladies forum conducted under the theme “The African Woman: A Voice for Peace” President Banda will present a paper on Thursday, July 26.

“As a female president I am going there to encourage these fellow women who are supposed to be working side by side with African leaders in transforming the wellbeing of Africans at large,” she said.

She said first ladies have to be recognized for the role they play in meeting Africa’s development agenda and need to be motivated.

“These women can influence leaders to become autocratic or mess up the economy. They can influence presidents to be good leader and manage the economy well,” she added.

Mrs. Banda said her trip to Nigeria has been fully financed by the Nigerian government. She flew out in a Nigerian state airliner.

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