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Gender Equality Index

The women of Africa make a sizeable contribution to the continent’s economy. They are more economically active as farmers and entrepreneurs than women in any other region of the world. It is the women who grow most of Africa’s food, and who own one-third of all businesses.

What is more, there have been many recent advances on women’s empowerment on the continent, including many changes in laws to promote equal rights for women. Many African countries have closed the gender gap in primary education. In 11 African countries, women hold close to one-third of the seats in parliaments, more than in Europe.

However, African women are held back from fulfilling their potential by many constraints, whether as leaders in public life, in the boardroom, or in growing their businesses. This in turn holds back the potential of the continent’s economy. African women spend way too much time at unproductive pursuits, such as fetching water and wood. While African women work 50% longer hours than men, the pay gap between men and women is very wide.

To help inform policymaking to further mainstream gender, which will lead to more inclusive growth, the African Development Bank is launching the first-ever Gender Equality Index. The Index is the most comprehensive assessment of the state of gender equality on the continent, examining the role of women as producers, economic agents, in human development, and as leaders in public life.

However, the Index is merely a starting point. In coming months, the AfDB will sit down with policymakers, civil society, and governments at major regional gatherings, to look at ways to further enrich the Index, so it becomes a tool for governments to gauge the effectiveness of policies to advance gender equality.

We hope you will read the report and give us your feedback, as we strive to improve it.