by Brenda

Today’s woman crush #womeninspire is none other than Ghanaian social entrepreneur and founder of the Leading Ladies Network, Yawa Hansen-Quao.

Yawa is one of the many women I got to know through social media. A little research on her, and I was inspired to do more! Yawa personifies the whole idea of #womeninspire.

Yawa’s quest to make an impact began some years ago after she was forced to flee Ghana in the early 1980s amidst the season of political turmoil. Her parents sought refuge in Togo, with Yawa living her life as a refugee, returning home in 1996 when it was much safer. This shaped a greater part of her life and you will soon find out why.

Having lived in between both cultures and later in the United States, Yawa realised that women and children were always the hardest hit by the effects of conflict and there Yawa found her passion: helping brilliant and purposeful young ladies to achieve their dreams and goals amidst political situations.

Another thing motivated Yawa, and it was the limited opportunities accessible for African young ladies. Remembering how she was always the subject of public ridicule as a little girl, being teased at school for her very deep voice, and how her father encouraged her, Yawa set out to find her own voice, and this fueled her passion to help other women to do the same.

In 2009, she started the Leading Ladies Network, a non-profit organisation that trains young women to be instruments of social change, supporting them in all areas and preparing them to be servant leaders in their chosen fields. Yawa’s Leading Leadership Network has helped over 400 women and girls through mentoring, continuing education, and community building.

That’s not all. Yawa created the StandOut Women’s Leadership Programme to strengthen the leadership skills of women striving for personal and professional success. Here, she coached entrepreneurs, managers and CEOs to think strategically about their future.

Yawa continues to inspire. She is the Executive Director of Emerging Public Leaders Ghana and is on the Advisory Board of Women’s Institute for Global Leadership. She is also a member of the African Leadership Network and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.

It comes as no surprise that in May 2012, at the World Economic Forum on Africa, Yawa was recognized as one of Africa’s Rising Leaders and in 2016 was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in honour of her pioneering work of nurturing emerging women leaders.

Today I celebrate you, Yawa! Thank you for harnessing the leadership skills of women! Thank you for creating space for ambitious girls to connect and participate at every leadership table! Thank you for mentoring women and helping them gain board-level experience! Thank you for thinking about the future of women! Thank you! Thank you for being a woman who inspires! #womeninspire #womancrushwednesday

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