“We owe it to our young girls to develop better systems that foster gender equality in Africa,” Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has argued.
She explained during a virtual panel discussion, dubbed “Sharing decision-making between women and men: an opportunity for Africa,” that ECA was “working closely with member states” to enhance women’s empowerment through data collection and analysis, and reporting on issues affecting women.
Ms Ruzvidzo cited a 2020 report by the ECA titled “Digital Finance Ecosystems – Pathways to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Africa” as one of several knowledge products the Commission contributes to its member states.
Assistance to member states is also done through capacity building, as is the case with the Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), which offers many free trainings on gender equality. IDEP is an arm of the ECA.
Mustapha Sadni Jallab, who heads IDEP’s Research and Training Division, highlighted the importance of incorporating gender into trade policies such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Nathalie Philes, President of the Gender and Governance Action Platform (2GAP), cautioned that no global challenge will be met without equal participation of women. She noted that 2GAP contributes to gender equality by bringing together a network of women professionals to interact with other private and public sector professionals.
In the same light, Yinka Ajibola, Chair of Business and Professional Women Abuja, pointed out that “when we collaborate more, we achieve more.” She emphasised on the role of advocacy in achieving gender equality, noting that women need to be encouraged to take risks in all sectors and to build confidence in themselves.
For his part, Liévin Feliho, President of The Humanist Circle of Commitment and Reflection on the Future of Africa, expressed hope for an Africa where development is people driven, relying upon the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children.
The session was organised as part of activities leading to the 7th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, which is set for 1st to 4th March 2021.
Panellists noted, among other things, that COVID-19 has shown the vast effects of gender inequality and that women must be an integral part of build-back initiatives. They also agreed on the need to invest more in human capacity development. Another key takeaway was that gender inequality must be seen as an important issue for collaboration and not of competition.
Ms Ruzvidzo announced that ECA will be publishing a report in line with the 2021 women’s day theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World”. The session was moderated by Flávia Ba, a Research Officer at IDEP.
Learn More: UNECA