AfDB Celebrates 100 Years of International Women’s Day

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Date: 08/03/2011

Statement by AfDB Secretary General, Cecilia Akintomide Statement by AfDB Chief Operating Officer, Nkosana Moyo
General Discussion Part I General Discussion part II
Closing Ceremony: Kordje Bedoumra, Corporate Management Vice President

Background

The African Development Bank (AfDB) celebrated the centenary of International Women's Day on 8 March 2011 in Tunis and the field offices, with the active participation of Ms. Lalla Ben Barka, Director General Assistant UNESCO, and Zohra Ben Lakhdar, physics professor at Tunis University and winner of the 2005 L'Oreal UNESCO Women in Science.

This event’s focus on equal access to education, training and science and technology as pathways for decent employment for women is important to the AfDB, due to its relevance to African women’s economic empowerment in particular, and to Africa’s development and economic growth as a whole.

Over the years, the Bank has contributed considerably towards improving both access and quality education at all levels through construction and equipment of classrooms and science labs. Bank financing has also increased girls’ access to education through a number of measures: Bank projects financed in-service training for teachers to make them better equipped to treat both boys and girls fairly; education projects routinely construct separate ablution and boarding facilities for girls and female students. The suitability of education materials have been reviewed in a number of projects. In order to increase the ratio of girls in science and technology and in non-traditional technical and vocational training, the AfDB financed the revision of curricula to be more girl-friendly, the production of gender sensitive information materials on science and technology careers, scholarships, bridging courses and mentorship programs for girls willing to study non-traditional subjects.

The 2010 Millennium Development Goals report for Africa suggests that tremendous gains had been achieved in closing gender gaps in primary education and many countries are close to reaching gender parity or surpassing it. In terms of secondary education, Africa has the lowest participation with only 45 % compared to other regions.

The AfDB is up-to-date with global and regional policies in Education. Bank document’s such as the 1999 Education Sector Policy placed special emphasis on the importance of gender and education and its vital role for economic growth and poverty reduction; and the 2001 Gender Policy “promotes girls education in the fields of science and technology in order to ensure access to career development and training to meet the needs of the changing socio-economic context”.  In 2005, the Bank swung to Higher Education, Science and Technology. This is pivotal for fulfilling Regional Member Countries demand for strong knowledge-based economies through human development, particularly in tertiary education, science and technology and technical and vocational training in order to advance economic growth. The 2008 Higher Education, Science and Technology Strategy also gives priority to “more participation of girls and women in higher education and in Science &Technology-related education at all levels”.