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December 18, 2023

Ambassador Davis Ba Remarks at the 23rd Women Leaders Training Graduation Ceremony- December 12, 2023




Earlier this year, in March, I asked you all if you were ready.

Ready to challenge yourselves professionally.

Ready to take your public speaking and leadership skills to the next level.

Now, as we look back at the last couple of months, you have done more than that.

Not only have you covered topics like the six common leadership styles and how to deliver an effective elevator pitch, but you’ve also learned important life lessons.

For example, one participant told me that the Personal Development and Introspection modules helped them start the healing process following a traumatic event.

Others have said this program has made them more outgoing, and more adaptable.

But above all, what you have all done with this program is shown a commitment to supporting each other.

There’s an expression in the United States that’s one of my favorites: “Lifting as we climb.”

I love this expression because it explains success isn’t just about how high we make it in life, but about the others we uplift along the way.

Early in my career, I was mentored by a strong leader who showed me the power of self-confidence, firmly standing up for one’s values, and leading with kindness and compassion.

That mentor is now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and I am fortunate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire!  Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield lifted as she climbed.

Madam Joséphine Yapelet, who is here with us today, also lifted as she climbed.

Madam Yapelet met two high school girls in our American Spaces STEM program who were initially struggling with school, and with self-esteem.

After mentoring them throughout high school one is now pursuing a master’s degree in communication, while the other is studying Computer Science.

That is the power of mentorship.

You now have a sisterhood of personal and professional contacts you can rely on.

Together, you will all join a wider network of women who have continued to learn and challenge themselves.

At least 10 graduates of this program have run for public office, including Madam Koné Matogoman, the newly elected mayor of Seguelon  (SE-GUE-LON).

A special thanks to our 15 valuable teachers and trainers for their commitment; you spent more than 100 hours to train, correct papers and build the capacities of our Women Leaders.

Of course, you also have the U.S. Embassy for support.  Our American Spaces are always open to you as an information resource, and we hope you will also lend yourself as a resource to others and share your expertise.

The United States will continue to partner with you, the people of Côte d’Ivoire, to support people, peace, and prosperity in both our countries.

This requires combatting gender inequality and promoting inclusivity in the digital economy.

The United States is training entrepreneurs in places like Bouaké, San Pedro, and Korhogo to develop small businesses.

We are also financing programs like DigiFemmes to train 16,000 women to grow their businesses by enhancing their tech skills.

Women leaders:  The question I now ask you is, what will you do as graduates of this training program?  Will you support people, peace, and prosperity in Côte d’Ivoire?  Will you uplift others as you climb?

No matter which paths you take, what I know for sure is that you all are ready! On est ensemble!

Thank you.