“Gender is not an annex to our work”, says AfDB President Donald Kaberuka at International Women’s Day

07/03/2014
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‘Equality for women is progress for all’ is the theme of International Women’s Day 2014,  which the African Development Bank (AfDB) celebrated in anticipation on 7 March 2014 in Tunis. “Although women have made progress, there is need to further improve their access to education and finance with a view to closing the gender gap cost,” said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, the AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender, as she discussed its role in helping to improve economic conditions in Africa and its strategic focus on gender issues in doing so.

While the Bank has helped to improve the lives of millions of Africans, many remain needy because of unequal rates of economic development, and this applies particularly to women.

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka recognized progress on gender issues to date but insisted that much remains to be done on the question inside the AfDB itself. Referring the institution’s gender strategy, he said: “We are here to determine how each of us will implement this new strategy. We are here to engage on how Senior Management will make the gender strategy its business.” “Gender is not an annex of  our work”,  he added.

Celebrations included a panel discussion on African women and finance. Talks centred on how to find ways to help African women become more productive, in part through access to credit and finance. Panelists stressed the need to think differently and invest in women as the way to change Africa’s political and economic landscape.

They also called on African governments to see funding women’s economic development not as charity but as a means to help them to create wealth. They particularly argued that the cost of excluding women from finance “is abject poverty in the continent.” Referring to rural women they also stressed that “they should be provided with appropriate resources, not only for political reasons.”  “Our governments should be influenced in resources mobilization for women,” they further explained.

Panelists were: Nomsa Daniels, Executive Director and Founding Member of New Faces New Voices; Laura French and  Yusef Hatira, both members of the Young Professionals Program at the AfDB; Stella Kilongo, AfDB’s Manager of Financial Sector Development Department; Sharron McPherson, an investment banker and former Wall Street attorney, Fatou Sarr, Director of the Gender and Scientific Research Laboratory at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal and Danbala Danju, Senior Adviser to  AfDB Executive Director for Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.