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2007 AEC - Promoting Women’s economic empowerment in Africa


The concept of promoting women’s economic and political empowerment has gained greater attention over the last three decades. However, progress in promoting gender equality and empowerment of women at country and local levels has been hampered by various constraints. Although there has been recent focus on developing women’s entrepreneurship in Africa, much of the focus has been on growth-oriented women’s businesses. Women’s entrepreneurship in micro and small business that are often considered informal, despite concerted efforts of poverty reduction initiatives through increased access to skills training and micro-credit, have not been able to reach the growth potential. This paper examines the gender differentiated growth patterns and constraints to growth of women’s and men’s small scale enterprises. It briefly presents the various gender-related obstacles to the growth of women’s enterprises and proposes policy and legal reforms to bring about change in women’s access to assets. It also emphasizes the need to look at promoting women’s economic empowerment from a multi-sectoral perspective and the need to integrate various economic, social and cultural elements in developing projects that seek to develop MSEs. Moreover, it highlights the need for the poverty reduction initiatives to target beyond increasing household income and reducing poverty and seek the growth of MSEs. It is hoped that the paper contribute to discussions related to MSE development and women’s economic empowerment.

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