African women can and will be agents of change for the continent’s transformation at all levels. This was the message delivered by the African Development Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender (SEOG), Geraldine J. Fraser-Moleketi, during a Pre-Summit Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Gender that took place on January 20-22 ahead of the 24th Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “Promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality must remain an option, but be placed at the heart of the efforts of the AfDB to promote inclusive growth in Africa,” she said.
“Women continue to play a central role in putting an end to extreme poverty, promoting education and achieving economic growth across the continent.” Her words come as the African Union declared 2015 as the Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.
The theme of the AU Summit also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action (1995), the 5th Anniversary of the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), the 15th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the finalization of the Post 2015 development agenda.
‘Let’s be audacious in moving the African post-2015 Agenda forward’ – Geraldine J. Fraser-Moleketi AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender The Special Envoy on Gender said that the African Development Bank strongly believes that that, throughout Africa, women are a powerful force for growth and development; they make important contributions to the economy as workers and entrepreneurs, and to the welfare of their families.
In many African countries, however, unequal access to property, discrimination in the labour market, and business-related obstacles hinder women from contributing even more to their countries’ growth and well-being. Removing such obstacles can not only help to empower women, but also to unlock the full economic potential of their nations. Fraser-Moleketi emphasized that Africa’s growth story has not been inclusive.
Increased and sustained efforts are required to empower women to contribute to and benefit from this transformation process, she added. Releasing the economic potential of women provides the opportunity to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and ensure that Africa’s growth is both inclusive and sustainable.
Facilitating women’s economic empowerment efforts is at the heart of AfDB’s Ten Year Strategy, the Special Gender Envoy said, adding that the increasing disparity of income that the continent is currently witnessing can not only be stopped; it can be reversed.
As 2015 marks the year of Women’s Economic Empowerment by African Heads of State and Governments, the stage has been set for an increased focus on the role of women as key players in Africa’s economic growth and structural transformation.