Women’s role in boosting intra-African trade
--pre-gender confab precedes AU summit
The 6th gender pre-Summit of the African Union (AU) has ended at the headquarters of the continental body in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa under the theme,“Boosting Intra-African Trade”.
An AU press statement said the Pre-Summit was a preparatory activity of the 19th African Union Summit which begins this Monday 9 July.
Participants at the just ended gender pre-summit discussed a range of issues including the role of women in trade in Africa, the role of women entrepreneurs and food security in Africa.
According to the statement, the meeting was aimed at “updating the participants on what is being done on the continent in terms of gender equality and women’s rights by the African Union and other actors.”
Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, underscroed the importance of trade in Africa.
“No nation or region that has developed has achieved that without being integrated into the global economy,” Mwencha said.
The AU official pointed out that trade is a means of the development of the continent and women are key drivers of trade.
But he said the expansion of trade unfortunately faced difficulties such as the lack of infrastructure, implementation of policies on trade or information about products.
For her part, the Director of Trade and Industry, Mrs Treasure Thembisile Maphanga said women traders sometimes face violence, harassment and abuse when crossing borders and as mentioned by these realities are not always represented in mainstream trade institutions.
According to the AU, one of the objectives of this gender meeting was to see what could be done to improve the situation of women in trade in Africa.
Among the panellists of this discussion, Dr. Amani Asfour, President of Egyptian Business Women Association, who emphasized the need for capacity building, empowerment of the private sector and ownership of the management of the continent’s resources.
She said without ICT, negotiation skills and technical skills very few things can be achieved nowadays.
Africa needs to add value to its products, to attend to issues such as branding, designing, packaging, and advertising so that they can be attractive to both local and foreign markets.
But she said to achieve all this, women need to be empowered through more sensitization of politics and to be financially independent because, as Dr. Asfour stated, “Financial independence is the key to have a voice and a choice”.
On the African continent, women traders face difficulties to access credit due to the absence of collateral, in many cases, they still need the consent of the husband and sometimes they do not even have any goods of their own.Tweet