AfDB Reiterates Continued Support for Women Empowerment

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has pledged its continued support for women empowerment in the continent. The President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, made the pledge in a video message to the 2nd African Women Economic Summit holding in Lagos, Nigeria.

The AfDB is co-sponsor and co-organiser of the summit along with New Faces New Voices, founded by Mozambique’s former first lady, Graca Machel.

Dr. Kaberuka said that the Bank will continue to support the cause of empowering women in Africa.

He said Africa has made significant progress in the last few years; recording improved economic growth but noted that more needs to be done to bring about financial inclusion. “Economic active women are still trapped in low productivity economic activities in micro and small businesses” he said. The AfDB President said Africa will do well if women productivity is improved adding that this could be achieved by stepping up girl-child education, including business and technical education.

President Kaberuka regretted women’s low access to finance due to lack of collateral saying only 15 percent of women worldwide own land titles.  “Outdated customary rights restrict women right to ownership of land titles” he said. According to him women can do more if they have access to finance noting that access to finance means dignity, security for family and future generation.

He said that the AfDB will continue to improve the involvement of women in economic activities in Africa through its long term strategy, a new gender strategy and the African Guarantee Fund (AGF).

The long-term strategy according to Dr. Kaberuka will focus on developing critical infrastructure including improving access to water which will alleviate the suffering of women. The AGF, which has become operational, has an initial guarantee of USD 50 million with the AfDB investing USD 10 million. The fund is expected to attract a total commitment of USD 500 million in the next five years.

The President says Africa is poised to play an increasingly important role in the global economy if the right things are done and says all hands must be on deck. He congratulated Mrs Machel for her exceptional leadership and her untiring effort in promoting the African woman.

Dr. Kaberuka called on the summit participants to come up with concrete ideas on how to improve women access to finance.

The 1st African Women Economic Summit was held in Nairobi in 2010.

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