Our Host, Madam Angelina Makoye,
Invited guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcoming remarks
I thank the organizers for inviting me to join you this afternoon at the opening of the Women Empowerment and Mentorship Seminar. In particular I commend Ms Angelina Makoye for this wonderful and innovative idea to convene this meeting that provides an opportunity to bring women’s perspective to One Belt, One Road Initiative.
I keenly listened to Ms. Makoye’s welcoming statement and asked myself, what else I can talk about, because, she said it all.  If it was my decision, I would have said that we should straight go to important items of the meeting – which is to listen to our guest speakers who will give us inspirational talk relevant to today’s subject.
But since, I have this opportunity to speak let me say few words about One Belt, One Road initiative,  and its potential contribution to women empowerment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our event today is taking place few weeks after the historical high-level forum on the Belt and Road Initiative that took place here in Beijing.  May I seize this moment to commend His Excellency President Xi Jinping for the visionary and innovative idea of One Belt and One Road.  The Revival of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has won wide support from the international community, and there is now a broad international consensus on quickening its implementation.   Our gathering here is a clear testimony that One Belt, One Road Initiative is not a solo performance or an empty slogan, but a series of concrete discussions and actions taking place at local, regional and global stage to bolster up the global and regional economy. 
            Ladies and Gentlemen,
I had an opportunity to attend the Belt and Road meeting.  Basically the leaders met to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes. They also explored ways to address problems facing global and regional economy, and they created fresh energy for pursuing inter-connected development and make the “Belt and Road” initiative deliver greater benefits to people of countries involved.
One of the pillars of Belt and Road Initiative is CONNECTIVITY.  And Connectivity is achieved through infrastructure, Trade and People to People Interaction.   Now when you talk about trade between China and Africa, women have always been at the centre.  40 percent of Africans trading in Guangzhou city in Guangdong Province are women.   Majority of them are very successful in trading business of selling products from China back in Africa.  Therefore as China invests more in Africa’s infrastructure particularly in ports, Roads, Railways and Power, more African women are likely to directly benefit from the fruits of Belt and Road. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another important principles guiding One Belt One Road initiative is the promotion of cultural and people-to-people exchanges as well as Educational cooperation.  This is one area where China has recorded great achievement through providing scholarships to African Youth particularly WOMEN. Most of you present here, are beneficiaries of China-Africa education cooperation.  And in this area ladies and gentlemen we have many success stories out there that could be cited…for the purposes of inspiring young women who are here today,let me share with you the stories of two young African women who are here in CHINA. 
A young lady from Tanzania named LYATAMILA MTAKWA came to China in2008 to study masters in Business Administration at Wuhan University of Technology. She performed very well to the point that her University supervisor advised her to apply for PhD.  She took the challenge and applied at the university of Huazhong Science and Technology.  It was not easy because they were giving out only 7 scholarship to foreigners at that time and luckily she was one among the 7 out of 200 who applied. As you all know Huazhong University of Science and Technology is one among the best universities in China.
She did PhD in Marketing Management and managed to publish 5 papers while the requirement was 3 papers only.   From Her eager and attitude to learn more and participate in many academic performance her supervisor professor Chang advised and encouraged her to apply for a teaching post which were advertised in the university.  Unfortunately she did not succeed, but she did not give up.  Her professor encouraged her to apply for another teaching post at Zhongnan University of Econonics and Law.
They were about 100 applicants for that job, and among them three were from Africa (SENEGAL, TANZANIA AND NIGERIA) and among them only one was FEMALE. The department of management was in need of only one lecturer. Having shortlisted the candidates to 10 followed by an  interview, LYATAMILA emerged on TOP.  Therefore she was THE ONE AND ONLY ONE who got the Job.
After working for two years in Zhongnan University of Economics and Laws, and being able to publish 3 papers, attending many conferences and workshops and academic competitions both in Chinese and English; She got experience on how to work, live and teach in chinese universities.
Now she is moved to another University called South -central University for Nationalities. As we speak she has already made one publication and working on publishing an academic book by 2018 February.
From all she has gone through to reach where she is, she is a living testimony that HARD WORK, DEDICATION AND NEVER GIVEUP ATTITUDE is the key to success. She pushed herself to the maximum limit- so as to achieve the best. DR LYATAMILA MTAKWA do not believe on the saying that women cannot survive without assistance, because all people are equal and born with a talent- only hard work, commitment and dedication make the difference.  SHE IS A WIFE, A MOTHER AND AND LECTURER AT THE CHINESE UNIVERSITY.
Another story that I would like to share with you is about another Young Lady Called Minishi Aziz Sheween.  She came to Beijing in 2010 as a transfer student from Wigan & Leigh College in India to Raffles Design Institute partnering withBEIJING FASHION INSTITUTE. 
Minishi is very proactive girl.  While still schooling, she started applying for jobs related to her area of study (GRAPHIC DESIGN).   She applied for a position at VERO MODA, one of the World’s leading design companies with an office in Beijing. 
One Tuesday afternoon, after she completed her classes, she found a missed call on her cellphone- with unidentified number.  She ignored it as many of us do these days ----when you find the number you don’t know.  But on second thought, she decided to call back- guess that was on the other line? CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF VERO MODA—with the news that she has been selected to join the firm—as the ASSISTANT TO THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR…..imagine, as student who has not completed school, undergoing several challenges- among which she lost her father- and all uncertainties thereafter….you land such an opportunity.
Despite the prevailing circumstances at the time, MINISHA prevailed to be the best that she is- no matter what…..so she was hired on part time basis for six month and later after completion of her course, she joined the company on FULL TIME BASIS.  She was very much determined to excel to greater heights as a TOP GRAPHIC DESIGNER OF VEO MODA and indeed, she succeeded.
You might have seen her work at many VERO MODA stores through out China both in marketing – meaning posters and Textiles meaning patterns on clothes. 
MINISHA is a proud African and Tanzanian woman working in a firm with 10,000 employees- herself being the only African there.  Her message to all of you present here today, ANYONE COULD EXCEL TO GREATER HEIGHTS- NEVER GIVE UP TRYING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING---WE ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS WE MAKE OURSELVES TO BE.  Indeed, she is living her testimony- this morning she called me at 7am only to inform me that there are two job opportunities in her company which she would like Africans with qualification to app- .she is a true AFRICAN patriot.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These two women and many more have devoted themselves to many admirable and inspirational roles that have gone beyond the traditional confines. And they did that after they conquered themselves and came out with confidence and strong-will. And I know for sure that this trend will continue. Women of today are taking charge of their destiny and at the same, shaping those around them. I am confident that this starting journey will be a good inspiration to all women here, and will continue to lead all of us to a better future.
What holds women back is not competence, which you usually have; but confidence, which you often lack. While underqualified and underprepared men leap forward, overqualified and over-prepared women hide in the shadows, doubting their abilities, holding themselves to an impossible standard of perfection. This needs to change.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am also a passionate believer in mentors and role models. By having these distinguished experienced Speakers today, will mentor all of you here and stick on the right track of your dreams. The topics to be delivered are of higher relevant and so I believe that you will benefit from their mentorship.  With their support, Let us capitalize on the opportunities provided by ONE BELT, ONE ROAD to make the difference in our lives.  Yes, It can be Done. Do your part.
Ladies and Gentleman,
I have taken much of your time. Therefore allow me to conclude by once again thank the organizers of the meeting, particularly Ms Angelina Makoye for inviting me to speak at the opening of your meeting.
After those many words, it is now my singular honor and pleasure to declare that the SEMINAR on WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND MENTORSHIP officially opened. I wish you fruitful and focused deliberations.
Thank you for your kind attention.

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