Highlights of the Summit include the launch of:
- AFAWA risk-sharing facility to de-risk lending to women
- 50 Million African Women Speak, a Pan-African networking platform
- Joint UNECA-African Development bank Gender index
“We’ve known it from the beginning that equality and women’s empowerment is the true way for sustainable development,” Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Solina Nyirahabimana told reporters at a 2019 Global Gender Summit press conference on Tuesday.
“During this past 25 years, we have been concentrating on gender equality, starting by creating a conducive environment, uprooting, revising, and abolishing discriminative laws. We’ve worked tirelessly to have women included in the financial sector,” Nyirahabimana said.
“When you don’t understand women, you can’t serve them.”
More than 1,200 delegates are in Kigali, Rwanda for the 2019 Global Gender Summit including distinguished guests such as the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame; the President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde; the African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the First Ladies of Rwanda and Kenya. Also in attending are representatives of the heads of state of Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Chad, and the King of Morocco and gender ministers from Niger, Somalia, Senegal, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Libya.
African Development Bank Group Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Jennifer Blanke, told journalists that much of Summit conversation centered around growing awareness that women need to be part of the development solution. “Women are a force to be unleashed and supported to ensure that they can really do their part in development in Africa. Women are already such a hugely important part of the development process,” she said.
Key highlights from the 2019 Global Gender Summit include the:
- Launch of the risk-sharing facility for the Bank-led Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, o AFAWA, programme – to support the program’s three-pronged approach, which seeks to quickly close the gender gap by facilitating access to finance, providing technical assistance and creating an enabling business environment for women-led businesses to thrive.
- 50 Million African Women Speak – a new Pan-African networking platform and web and mobile-based application to directly connect 50 million African women entrepreneurs. The platform links women to financial institutions and provides networking opportunities across Africa.
- The joint United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)-African Development Bank Africa Gender Index – a report that assesses African countries on gender equality.
- Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and mobile app – the first ever digital B2B and B2C pan-African networking platform, dedicated to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the African textile, apparel and accessories industries.
Also speaking at the press conference marking the close of the Summit’s multilateral development bank segment, the Chairperson of the Multilateral Development Banks’ Gender working group Chairperson, Sonomi Tanaka, said summit discussions were productive and some African countries are carrying out good practices. However, Tanaka noted the critical importance of data in development policies working toward gender equality. “Again and again, this is something that is coming up. This lack of data comes up across any topic…and data is one area we need to continue to focus on,” she said.
Elaborating on the data challenge, Blanke said, “There is a dearth of data on these issues. The bottom line is if we don’t measure it, you don’t do it. If you don’t measure, it means you don’t care about it – and we care about it.”
This Tuesday press conference was the latest in a series of Global Gender Summit activities that will see delegates attend Summit partner-organized workshops, trainings and technical sessions on Wednesday. The Global Gender Summit is organized by The African Development Bank, with other multilateral development bank partners. The biennial event brings together leaders from government, development institutions, the private sector, civil society, and academia.
Under the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality,” the Summit’s conversations and dialogue focuses on scaling up innovative financing, enabling legal, regulatory, and institutional environments; and securing women’s participation and voices.
Commenting on the Summit outcome Blanke noted: “The Summit has been all about doing. Doing more and doing it fast.”