To empower Africa, first empower women – AU Chair
AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
BY giving women the tools to become financially secure and independent, Africa would be investing in a society in which their rights to dignity, security and financial empowerment is secured, says African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa, who is also the president of South Africa, made the call for the empowerment of women and their inclusion in the burgeoning digital economy.
He made the remarks at the high-level virtual panel of G7 Partnership for African Women’s Financial Inclusion.
“We must enable women to take advantage of technological advances to start their own businesses, to trade and to seek employment. The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic effect on economic activity on the continent and around the world. Its impacts will be hardest felt by women, many of whom are employed in the informal sector. Women must have greater access to affordable financial services. They must have access to working capital, credit lines, insurance and to digital tools such as mobile banking platforms,” Ramaphosa said.
He called on governments to invest in the financial education of women and girls.
He said in support of greater economic and financial inclusion, South Africa has made a commitment of 500,000 USD to the African Women Impact Fund, which seeks to empower women financial leaders.
Ramaphosa added: “We have also announced that 40% of all public procurement will be reserved for women-owned businesses and are working with AU member states to develop similar policy guidelines across the continent.
‘We believe that a digitally-enabled economy – with a strong emphasis on gender equality – has the potential to be transformative, fair, sustainable and competitive.”
The AU chairperson said Africa continues to develop its ICT infrastructure to advance greater access to technology.
He said through digital platforms, a greater number of women will have access to funding and online banking, fulfilling a need that traditional banking services are unable to meet.
‘Unless women are brought into the mainstream of the economy they will continue to bear the brunt of exclusion and marginalisation and be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. A nation that empowers women is a strong and sustainable nation. It is our wish that world leaders use this occasion to reaffirm their commitment to the Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa,” Ramaphosa said.