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Tunis / Nairobi, 20 March 2010 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Donald Kaberuka, and Mrs. Graça Machel, Founder of New Faces, New Voices (NFNV) on Friday in Nairobi, jointly launched the first “African Women’s Economic Summit” to ensure the inclusion of women in decisions that are shaping the global financial system.
During the opening session, Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and Central Bank Governor, Njuguna Ndung’u expressed their strong support to African Women’s Economic Empowerment in view of women’s positive role in tackling the continent’s development challenges.
Mr. Odinga said: “if you empower a woman, you empower a whole family and a nation”. They agreed that recovering from the financial crisis; the financial leaders should take the advantage to include more women.
Some 160 African and global decision-makers in the financial and political sectors, policy-makers, regulators, commercial banks, and prominent women entrepreneurs attended the ceremony.
The AfDB President stated that he was “proud to be meeting here in a country which also has one of the most impressive innovations in the financial sector- in which women leaders play a key role, with the Central Bank’s support”.
However, he acknowledged that “women access to financial services so critical for the growth of any economic endeavor remains problematic”. He stressed the need “to cross the bridge together to break the barriers holding back so much a force for good in the world of finance”.
The African Women Business Initiative, launched by the AfDB Private Sector Operations, is an example of how financial stakeholders could best serve half of the African continent, how more women get up the corporate ladder.
Mrs. Machel thanked the AfDB President for the Bank’s continuous support. “The AfDB has given its best in terms of insights and inputs.” She appealed for the “space and right of women to be at the centre stage in the reforming and reshaping the financial sector”.
It is on this bases that Mr. Kaberuka and Mrs. Machel decided to convene and co-host the first African Women’s Economic Summit in 2010, with Central Bank of Kenya support.
The initiative is driven by the growing recognition that women represent a key emerging market in Africa and significant contributors to economic growth. Yet, their role as decision makers in the financial sector, and as users of financial services, is overlooked. Going forward, the summit will identify key actions that financial sector stakeholders need to take to invest differently in women towards building stronger financial sectors and competitive economies in Africa.
Participants also discussed other issues including reshaping Africa’s financial sector; the business case for investing differently in women (chaired by Mrs. Machel); overcoming the challenges of the economic power of women and Africa’s role in reshaping the global financial system.
The panellists included former Ugandan Vice President, Speciosa Kazibwe Wandira, former Mozambican Prime Minister, Luisa Diogo and Botswana Central Bank Governor, Linah Mohohlo..
In a speech at the dinner, Nobel Laureate and Founder of the Greenbelt Movement, Wangari Maathai, expressed her strong support to African women.