Allison Dembeck Allison Dembeck
Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy, Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


June 30, 2022


The U.S. Chamber’s Women Taking the Lead (WTTL) is focused on changing what leadership teams look like.

It was with this lens that WTTL partnered with the U.S. Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity initiative and U.S.-Africa Business Center, as well as with the Association of Women in International Trade, to host an event titled “Centering Women’s Leadership in African Trade Policy.” 

Women-run small and medium-sized enterprises make up approximately 60% of Africa’s GDP and create about 450 million jobs. There is also a growing number of African women diplomatic and political leaders, and with that comes larger recognition of women as economic drivers of growth. The key is making sure policies and innovation foster rather than hinder this growth.      

Distinguished women leaders and allies from the African Diplomatic Corps; senior officials from the U.S. government; state, local and U.S. Chamber leaders; corporate executives; and international thought leaders all joined the discussion, which coincided with International Trade Month, World Trade Day, and Africa Day.

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1/5Allison Dembeck kicking off the “Centering Women’s Leadership in African Trade Policy” event.
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2/5Camille Richardson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa in the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, speaks on the Women Empowered Leave Legacies Through Trade Investment initiative (WELLTI).
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3/5Latricia Good Boone, Vice President of Equality of Opportunity and Strategic Alliances at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leads a discussion on what the private sector can do to center women’s leadership in African trade policy. From left to right: Latricia Boone, Akaego Okoye, Hera Abbasi.
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4/5H.E. Ambassador Hilda Suka Mafudze gives opening remarks on what women mean for trade and to the economy in Africa.
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5/5Some of the women who helped make the event a success: Whitney Harmel, Executive Vice President of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Maryland Chamber Foundation; Latricia Good Boone, Vice President of Equality of Opportunity and Strategic Alliances at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Amielle Niriniavisoa Marceda, Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar; Allison Dembeck, Vice President of Education & Labor Advocacy and Executive Director of Women Taking the Lead at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; H.E. Amb. Hilda Suka Mafudze, African Union Ambassador to the United States; Dr. Laurie Ann Agama, Deputy Assistant USTR for Economic Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Akaego Okoye, Director of Business Development for U.S-Africa at DLA Piper; Emily Beline, Senior Counsel for International Regulatory Affairs at FedEx; Heather Lanigan, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade & Development Agency; and Kendra Gaither, Vice President, U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The conversation emphasized that it’s imperative to have women leaders at the forefront of discussions on trade, economic policy, and business development because gender equality in leadership is the best way to achieve inclusivity and equality in the outcomes and implementation. Women leaders are key to ensuring women’s economic empowerment and gender equality around the world.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, but are interested in reading highlights or watching the discussions, you can do so here.

About the authors

Allison Dembeck

Allison Dembeck

Allison L. Dembeck is vice president of education and labor advocacy in the Government Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, focusing on education, labor, and workforce development issues.

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