By Samuel Ouma
Five new public development banks on Friday, October 21, 2022, signed onto the Paris Development Banks Statement on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.
The new signatories are the CAF- Development Bank of Latin America; Development Bank of Rwanda; Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – Italian Investment Bank; Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA); and the Dutch development agency, FMO.
Malado Kaba, African Development Bank Director for Gender, Women, and Civil Society, announced the signatories during a networking event for women executives organized by the Finance in Common Summit Coalition on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Banks.
The breakfast took place on the sidelines of the third Finance in Common Summit, which concluded in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The declaration calls for accelerated action toward realizing gender equality and empowering all women and girls through the international financial system.
Kaba said promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment made “absolute economic sense.”
“What, of course, is important is that this coalition fully aligns with what we do at the African Development Bank,” she said, adding that the bank had achieved 100% mainstreaming of gender in all its public operations. “Africa needs scale in action. There needs to be coordination, leveraging on our comparative advantages.” Kaba said.
According to Kaba, the public development bank signatories to the gender declaration now stand at 42, up from 25; the Finance in Common Summit gender statement was amended to consider new global realities. The coalition is also concluding a new milestone report entitled “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Public Development Banks and Development Finance Institutes: synthesis of promising practices of public development banks and development finance institutions.”
The report’s research has been conducted under four areas: gender-responsive green and quality infrastructure; gender-responsive climate change; UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 and a human-rights approach; and digital financial inclusion.
The African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank co-hosted the 2022 Finance in Common Summit alongside the Finance in Common Summit secretariat. The theme of this year’s summit was “Green and just transition for a sustainable recovery.”
The Women CEOs breakfast was organized to take stock of achievements made by the Finance in Summit Coalition on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development Banks and to discuss progress made. It was also a dedicated networking opportunity for professionals such as women CEOs and executives of commercial banks, public development banks, private companies, Finance in Common Summit Gender Coalition members and others involved in promoting gender equality.
Pierrette Kouakou, CEO of Fin’Elle Côte d’Ivoire shared her professional journey to provide financing for Ivorian women entrepreneurs. She lamented the obstacles standing in the way of 70% of women entrepreneurs in the informal market, who she said were “not bankable, not visible, and not trackable.” She told her audience that with support from the African Development Bank Group’s Affirmative Action for Women initiative, her company had financed 300 women-led small and medium-sized enterprises this year.
“Our vision is to create a pan-African model for financial inclusion… We have to change the way to do it for women,” Kouakou said.
Elvira Eurlings, Chief Investment Officer of ILX Management, said she had been motivated by her institution’s strides to support women entrepreneurs. ILX Management connects institutional pension funds in the Netherlands with “Sustainable Development Goals investments” and investments in emerging markets.
“Investing in pension funds is a good credit decision,” Eurlings said.
Addressing the gathering by video conference, Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, urged the coalition to support women further.
“What we need is bold action matched with ambitious finance,” she said.