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International Women’s Day 2015: Transition Support Department brainstorms on women’s empowerment and economies

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This week the African Development Bank has organized a series of events at its headquarters in Abidjan leading up to International Women’s Day (IWD) 2015 on March 8. On Tuesday March 3, the Transition Support Department (ORTS), formerly Fragile States, held a brainstorming session on “Empowering women, empowering economies,” under the leadership of the Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender (SEOG), Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. 

The time has come to celebrate African women’s acts of courage and determination within the framework of their role in their communities, observed the participants of a roundtable discussion co-chaired by ORTS Director Sibry Tapsoba and Fraser-Moleketi.

Several participants took the floor and delivered powerful testimonies on the role of women in building resilience in fragile situations.

During the interactive session, participants discussed strategies and challenges related to financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment. Most speakers made a call to increase measures to educate and protect girls and women from sexual abuse and exploitation, and to strengthen their role in the community and society.

More specifically, participants recognized women’s role in peace-keeping and in Africa’s development, and the need to build resilience and strengthen their economic empowerment. Participants reflected on how the Transition Support Department could provide further support to Operations in fragile situations. They also discussed the Bank’s approach to addressing fragility and building resilience, one that aims to promote the participation of women in peace-building and state-building processes at all levels, while paying particular attention to the impact of gender-based violence that often accompanies conflict. Other key areas highlighted by the meeting was how ORTS would work with the Special Gender Envoy’s Office, to introduce more gender-sensitive interventions that are tailored to the distinct realities seen in fragile situations.

The ORTS Department prepared a knowledge product, “Gender and Fragility: Five Key Areas to Consider” as part of the activity to mark the celebrations.  The product is meant to serve as guidance on gender and fragility for Bank Operations and focuses on key areas to be considered when working on gender in fragile situations. These are: (i) Assessing fragility from a gender perspective, (ii) Creating economic opportunities for women in fragile situations, (iii) Promoting social inclusion, (iv) Building capacities, and (v) Tackling gender-based violence.

Expectations on the Bank’s events for 2015 IWD remain high, as the Private Sector Department (OPSM) and ORTS Departments are expected to undergo some candid discussions, while the Bank’s Finance Vice-Presidency (FNVP) will discuss issues of financing, including the viability of a gender bond. A roundtable is planned for Friday, March 6, and seeks to examine how to bring about transformational change through infrastructure.

The Tuesday event was the AfDB’s first public event on IWD 2015, focusing on women’s economic empowerment in the context of Africa’s development. Activities are taking place all week and the Bank’s Field Offices (FOs) will be linked to events in Abidjan via video-conferencing. FOs have been encouraged to undertake country-level events to commemorate this important day.

Bank staff members have been specially invited to a panel discussion on Women, Leadership and Harassment on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. GMT. The Special Envoy strongly urges participation in these issues by all corners of the AfDB’s staffing architecture.

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