In Africa, the female population is about half of the entire population. However, regardless of them being part of the majority in numbers, the political and socio-economic landscape still denies them equal opportunities for economic prosperity. This impedes the promotion of economic inclusivity for women and girls in Africa making it very hard for the continent to get out of extreme poverty considering a major part of its population being significantly excluded.
An inclusive economy where women and girls are part of the continental productive activities in industries, businesses, agriculture, and other service-oriented economic activities will critically help to address the widening gender economic gap. It will also amplify women’s position in the decision-making within our families to the national and continental level. For instance, in politics, such a gender economic gap prevents women and girls to have the financial muscles to compete with the male counterparts for political representation which puts them at a disadvantage of not having a voice in decision-making bodies. This inhibits female perspectives in contributing to key policy-making processes especially those policies that affect their welfare at large.
Moreover, even the existing technological gender gap, unequal access to educational opportunities, unequal pay, and division of labor further exclude women and girls to prosper economically and slowdown Africa’s development progress. Consequently, having an economy which accommodates all gender equally without leaving any group behind will accelerate the attainment of both Agenda 2030 and 2063 across the continent. However, if the economy still favours one male gender while marginalising the other female gender, the achievements of these two development blueprints will be improbable.
According to UN Women, globally women are paid less, and over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. Even those engaging in entrepreneurship struggle with challenges to build and grow their businesses including lack of access to financing and business networks. With so many barriers ahead of women and girls’ journey to economic freedom, the overall economic growth and transformation in Africa remain uncertain.
Therefore, it is paramount for African countries to critically take action by creating a fair playground for both male and female gender to equally benefit from different economic opportunities available. Removing policies and legal barriers which prevent women’s economic empowerment should be a priority. In this context, African lawmakers have a major role to play in conducting policies and laws reform to economically liberate women and girls. These include laws such as labour laws that discriminate against women and girls, laws that prevent equal access to family assets and ownership, as well as policies that bar women’s entrepreneurship like those hampering equal access to finance and discriminate based on sex and marital status. That is why AUDA-NEPAD through its Spanish Fund for African Women provided financial resources and technical expertise to unlock their economic potential and fight poverty across the continent.
In addition, ensuring a conducive working environment for women by addressing challenges such as sexual harassment will enable them to offer their full potential at workplaces and contribute immensely to development activities in Africa. The Africa we want to see will not be achieved if women and girls in our society are still economically segregated. In this regard, promoting economic inclusiveness with women and girls at the top of the agenda will fast track poverty eradication process considering how they contribute to the welfare growth of their families through income-generating activities in both rural and urban areas in most African countries.
Source:AUDA-NEPAD Communication Unit