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Adesina Hails Women’s Accomplishments In Africa

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has applauded the accomplishments of women in Africa.
Dr. Adeshina said that unlike women in other parts of the world, African women have had to courageously break through glass ceilings in order to accomplish their aspirations.
“Women in Africa have had to break through male-dominated concrete ceilings”, he said in Pretoria on Wednesday while speaking at the virtual Women Heads of State Initiative, a new cross-media initiative organized by Africa.com in partnership with Coca Cola Africa.
The summit recognizes serving and past women presidents and prime ministers in Africa. One of its highlights is strengthening capacity for emerging female leaders on the continent. The conference also honored the 22 women who had served an African country as president or prime minister.
Special guests included Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila of Namibia; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of Liberia; Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the former President of Mauritius; and Joyce Banda, the former President of Malawi.
The summit was convened following the 2021 UN-organized Generation Equality Forum held in Paris. Issues discussed included women in leadership and business, climate change, vaccine manufacturing and water security.
While addressing to topic of food security, the AfDB president decried the obstacles that women encounter across the continent. He underscored challenges, including women’s lack of access to land, extension services and finance—even though women make up more than 60 percent of Africa’s smallholder farming community.
Highlighting the African Development Bank Group’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, Dr. Adesina said a revolution is building.
The programme, according to him, disbursed $450 million in 2021 for financial institutions to lend to women-led businesses. In 2022, Adesina added, the African Development Bank will disburse $500 million to women-led businesses. He further explained that women in business faced a $42 billion finance gap in Africa.
Women must go beyond primary farm production,” Adesina said. “They must also dominate agro-processing value chains, where most of the wealth is generated”, he added.
Head of Africa’s premier development lending institution said the recent virtual Africa Investment Forum boardrooms, an initiative of the Bank Group and other founding partners, attracted $32.8 billion in investment interests, including $5 billion for women-run businesses.
President Johnson Sirleaf was emphatic about Africa’s prospects, which she said were boosted by an increasingly youthful population. She called for policies that would focus on marginalized women.
He said: “As women leaders, we need to look at our own laws, and our own policies, and see: Are they conducive to promoting those women who are at the levels where you may consider them disadvantaged?”
On her part, President Banda shared concerns about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s progress, noting that the pandemic had deepened poverty levels and led to thousands of girls dropping out of school. She added that she was, however, heartened by the African Development Bank chief’s update on his institution’s women-centered programmes.
“The organizations supporting women in agriculture are really struggling … Malawian women farmers need help and need help now. There have been years when they have lost all their yields due to lack of markets. Yet those companies that might help them to raise finance don’t turn up”, she stressed.
The Women Heads of State Initiative featured other speakers, including Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, OBE, the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone; Vera Songwe; United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa; Wanjira Mathai, Vice President & Regional Director for Africa of the World Resources Institute; Mausi Segun, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division; and Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman of Aspen Pharmacare and Massmart Holdings.
Both Banda and Johnson Sirleaf shared plans to uplift women through their respective foundations. This included an upcoming conference in Malawi, which will address funding for women-headed organizations, among other issues. President Banda said only 1 percent of gender funding goes to organizations headed by women.

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