What you need to know:
- AWLN, a movement of African women leaders, has committed to invest, build, and inspire more women leaders in the continent.
- Among the commitments include strengthening action for women economic empowerment through the inclusion of a gender perspective in national, regional and continental policies and programs.
The African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) has embarked on a campaign to accelerate the realisation of women leadership in Africa.
Through the campaign, AWLN, a movement of African women leaders, has committed to invest, build, and inspire more women leaders in the continent.
The leaders, in a retreat hosted by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, committed to take various actions to accelerate women leadership in Africa.
Among the commitments include expanding opportunities for young women to pursue their leadership ambitions through documentation and dissemination of the experiences of senior women leaders, and facilitating co-leadership and co-mentorship.
The women also agreed to strengthen action for women economic empowerment through the inclusion of a gender perspective in national, regional and continental policies and programs.
“We will create a chain of solidarity between women, including young women and women entrepreneurs, by implementing the AWLN mentorship initiative and programs, and providing in-person and virtual mentoring to inspire and guide young leaders. We will also push for the reinforcement of existing women and youth financial and economic empowerment initiatives at national, regional and international levels,” AWLN said in a statement.
The women leaders will train women on trade agreements like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The women will also be trained on compliance with regulatory requirements, branding, product standardization, and value addition on their raw materials and build their capacity, particularly in digital technology, to support their access to e-commerce and information on trade and financial instruments.
AWLN pledges to ensure investors and financial institutions facilitate access to information and credit for women by disseminating information at all levels.
Sexual and gender-based violence is also on their agenda, and they have committed to strengthen ongoing efforts to combat the vice, and discrimination against women traders, particularly in informal cross-border trade.
“We will set aside a special session at the next AU Heads of State Summit to propose and discuss a clear agenda with a focus on financial and economic inclusion of women, including young women,” AWLN added in their statement.
Ms Suluhu, in her speech, underscored the importance of women’s voices in making catalytic decisions across the continent. The Tanzanian president said one cannot talk about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without touching on the role women in their realisation.
“It is my wish to see that women are positioned to tap into the economy and overseas markets.I pledge my continuous support to raising young women leaders to be the anchor in the society, to ensure the legacy continues,” said President Suluhu.
Her Ethiopian counterpartnoted the journey for women empowerment has been long and the milestones uncountable. She, however, added there is still more to overcome.
President Zewde noted that there are many ladders of opportunities for women, hence, the need for them to be bolder.
The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, cited the women and youth financial and economic inclusion initiative, which she co-launched with Ghanaian President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, to bridge the financial gap amongst African women and youth.
“Our continent needs initiatives such as AWLN. A network that seeks to nurture and consolidate women’s participation in the decision-m process and augment the financial and economic inclusion of women as its cornerstones,” she added.
Statistics show that women in Africa face disproportionate barriers to financial access and sustainability, and more must be done to narrow the gap and aid in the eradication of poverty and existing inequalities.
Gender experts, however, opine that collective efforts by leaders and other critical actors at decision-making levels, are needed to mobilize the financial literacy of women and girls, credit advances, and management of funds.
Women in Africa make up 58 per cent of the continent’s self-employed population. Undeniably, the impact of women in leadership cannot be side-lined.
The meeting was graced by key women leaders including former Liberia president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Malawian president Joyce Banda and former Vice-President of Gambia, Isatou Touray.
The forum converged with women of different ages and levels, with 70 per cent being young women by the Young Women Leaders’ Caucus (YWC) of the AWLN, in collaboration with the African Union Youth Envoy’s Office, the Women, Gender and Youth Directorate among others.