Women in Egypt Via Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 7 January 2018:The Business for Africa and the World summit, Africa 2018, focuses during its first day on the theme “Women Empowering Africa.” The summit will discuss ways to further empower African women and to enhance their engagement as agents for change in the continent through active participation in shaping economic and social policies. It seeks to mobilize established and emerging women leaders from across Africa to propel their success as well as provide a platform for them to showcase and celebrate their achievements.
Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path toward gender equality and respect for women’s rights, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home. But they often face discrimination and persistent gender inequalities, with some women experiencing multiple discrimination and exclusion because of intersectional identities including ethnicity or social class. Gender discrimination means women often end up in insecure and low-wage jobs. It restricts women’s access to economic assets such as land, loans and productive assets. And, because women perform the bulk of household work, they often have little time left to pursue economic opportunities. Hence, women’s participation in shaping economic and social policies is very limited.
Having empowered women in any country means great reduction in dependence rates, reduction in violence against women, increased house- hold income leading to an improved standard of living. Women’s economic participation and empowerment enables them to have control over their lives and exert influence in society. It leads to independent decision making regarding career, education, health in general and reproductive health in particular, investments and rights. Therefore, it is inevitable that empowering women economically will directly enhance sound public policies leading to any country’s development and equal distribution of resources.
The approach to empower women economically was first recognized at the Beijing conference, the fourth global conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace in 1995. Ac- cording to the Beijing platform of action, the areas that need improvement if the position of women is to be improved include: reducing poverty among women, stopping violence, providing access to education and healthcare and reducing economic and political inequality. Twenty years later, the Sustain- able Development Goals (SDGs) were launched, in line with Goal 5 called for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by 2030. The global development agenda suggests that emphasis should be placed on the preconditions necessary for women to become economically empowered and that gender-aware economic policies should be promoted to advance both economic and social development.
Both the Beijing platform of action and the SDGs should no longer be viewed as a set of aspirations, but must be used as a tool to push for the adoption of gender-sensitive policies and to emphasize the accountability of all actors. They should also in- form partnerships for women’s economic empowerment and translate to increased dialogue among development actors to improve support for women at the global level.
Despite global improvement in the health and education levels of women and girls, no such progress has been seen in economic opportunity as women continue to consistently trail men in formal labor force participation, access to credit, entrepreneurship rates, income levels, and inheritance and ownership rights. Women can no longer be discounted as the weaker sex, particularly given their impressive success as micro-entrepreneurs around the world and as thoughtful leaders and community-builders. Under-investing in women limits development, slows down poverty reduction and economic growth.
Status of gender equality in Africa
Gender equality in the African continent witnessed some progress; but African women are held back from fulfilling their potential by many constraints, whether as leaders in public life, in board- rooms, or in owning and growing their businesses. The constraints are not only limited to widespread poverty, but also include social constrains, lack of access to education, poor health and highly segmented labor markets. Despite the fact that women of Africa make a sizeable contribution to the continent’s economy by growing most of Africa’s food, they remain at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Some areas of the law, such as family laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance and land rights, limit women’s economic rights, hindering their economic and social decision-making and restricting their ability to enter into contracts to own, administer, or inherit assets and property.
By limiting women’s options and alternatives, such laws hinder their ability to contribute as economic and social actors to Africa’s development. Furthermore, gender inequalities are exacerbated by weak institutional structure, particularly among those mandated to promote gender equality such as ministries for women, and by lack of reliable gender statistics.
In 2015, the African Development Bank (AFDB) launched the “Africa Gender Equality Index”, a comprehensive tool that provides ongoing evidence on gender equality for 52 of Africa’s 54 countries. The index is designed to promote development and inform actions in three important dimensions of gender equality that can bring out change: economic empowerment, human development, and laws and institutions.
The Gender Equality Index concludes that across
Africa, women and men often experience different opportunities conditions and privileges; they earn different wages, do not have the same access to education and are not always equal before the law. It also shows that gender inequality in Africa is exacerbated by the fact that primary development policies in many African countries, known as poverty reduction strategies, still do not take into account differences in income and power between men and women, hampering efforts to finance programs that reduce inequality. This in turns holds back the productive potential of more than one billion Africans and negatively affects the continent’s economy.
It also highlights that the most inhibiting factor is that women in Africa continue to be denied an education, often their only ticket out of poverty. Disparities between girls and boys start in primary school and the differences widen up through the entire educational system. Since the early 1990s, Africa registered the highest relative increase among region in total primary school enrollment due to policies specifically targeting girls – but the continent is still far behind. African education-gender-responsive policies included special programs to sensitize parents through media, reducing school fees for girls in public primary schools in rural areas and increasing the proportion of female teachers to equalize the gender balance among teachers as Africa has the lowest global proportion of female teachers. Also, many African countries embarked on programs to build latrines, assist pregnant students and distribute free textbooks. On the high school and collage levels, the gender gap becomes even wider especially in science, mathematics, computer sciences and technical programs. On the bright side, the index shows that Africa has registered improvements in adult literacy rates. However, in some countries the female illiteracy rates are still much higher than the regional average of about 50%.
Widespread poverty also hampers the expansion of education in Africa; poorer families often face the stark choice of deciding whom to send to school and often it is the girl who stays home. Costs of tuition, the requirement to wear uniforms, long distances between home and school, in- adequate water and sanitation, all are factors that further re- strict girls’ access to education. Moreover, poverty in Africa continues to wear a woman’s face as women make up the majority of the poor, as much as 70% in some countries.
The gender gap in employment remains high in terms of pay, labor segregation and access to support from institutions such as banks. Women dominate informal sector employment and they work 50% longer than men but they rarely own land.When they do, their holdings tend to be smaller and less fertile than those of men. Removing the hurdles women face in their economic activities, which are mainly concentrated in the informal sector, will help unlock potential for economic growth in the continent. For example, the Gender Equality index shows that if women farmers had the same access to inputs and capacity building as males, overall yields could be raised by between 10 and 20%.
Poor infrastructure, including clean water, sanitation, electricity and transport, in the majority of African countries also limits women’s economic participation and impacts how women allocate their time. Thus, efforts to provide affordable infrastructure for water, food and energy in Africa will help women engage in more productive market activities and promote growth.
One area where Africa is showing progress in relation to world averages is in women’s political participation. Seventeen African countries established quotas for women’s political participation at the national and sub-national levels. As a result, in women hold close to one-third of the seats in parliaments in 11 African countries, more than in Europe. African women also have made significant strides in the continental political body, the African Union (AU), in 2003 five women and five men were elected as AU commissioners. The following year, the AU’s Pan-African Parliament was headed by a woman and ever since; women make up 25% of AU members.
Actions by Africa countries to achieve gender parity
Despite the presence of national government bodies that deal with gender issues in almost all African countries, since Beijing, these units, departments or ministries showed weakness and inability to be responsive to the challenges presented by the struggle for gender justice in the continent, according to discussions at the African Social Forum in Lusaka, Zambia in 2004. They have poor resources, few staff and no power or authority within governments to advance equality and justice for women.
However, a number of African countries took action to redress the bias in macroeconomic policies that favor men and boys at the expense of women and girls through adopting an approach known as gender budgeting. This approach drives countries to allocate a percentage of its national budget to implement gender-trans- formative programs; guided by a thorough analysis of governments’ spending choices and their impact on women and men, boys and girls to identify dis- parities. In turn, it helps mobilize more financing to narrow the gaps.
Some African countries also adopted a women- quota system to increase attention to reform in areas like family law, and affirmative action policies that address economic inclusion, land rights and increasing women presence in decision making positions including in businesses.
Women Economic Empowerment themes discussed at Africa 2018
Pro-women policies can drive change
To enable women to escape poverty, African development policies should place more emphasis on women contributions to the economy through labor force participation or entrepreneurship. Policies should also facilitate the process of obtaining basic opportunities for women and actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities.
Promoting African women’s ability to influence how decisions are made, how public policies are shaped and how resources are allocated can have a significant impact on boosting their productivity rapidly.
The first step is to build knowledge for evidence- based policy making that is based on real-time diagnosis and analysis of the current landscape. Next is reforming and enforcing laws. While all African countries recognize the principle of nondiscrimination in their constitutions, the traditional practices are not in sync especially in areas like marital property, inheritance, land ownership and labor where women are not treated as full citizens. By custom, often only male heads of households are able to enter into contract, travel and access markets. Many men also exercise sole control over household finances even when the women contribute equally to the household’s earnings. As a result, women’s participation in society and the economy continues to be mediated by male members of their families.
Introducing reforms to available laws, including family laws, to increase the minimum marital age for women, remove the husband’s ability to deny the wife permission to work outside the home, requiring the consent of both spouses to manage marital property and guaranteeing women access to reproductive health services including family planning commodities; can lead to increased levels of women’s labor participation and levels of vocational skills that increase women ability to move from self- employment into more sustainable entrepreneur- ship.
Adopting a pro-women agenda of action
Translating gender-sensitive policies and laws re- quires a progressive pro-women economic agenda of actionable strategies, plans, justice mechanisms, programs and interventions to strengthen African women’s economic empowerment in all sectors. Such an agenda can also facilitate the elaboration of a clear road map that supports increased country level dialogue on gender equality, contributes to closing the gender pay gap and maximizing women’s economic security.
Actionable steps to promote gender equality include adopting gender-responsive free trade agreements and agriculture policies that ensure women’s access to local and regional markets, support women’s access to agroprocessing and post-harvest management, investing in regional centers for excellence and business incubation hubs to foster training and learning processes focusing on women’s financial literacy training for women and entrepreneurs, increasing countries’ focus on providing financial services for women, including loans, savings, guarantee schemes, insurance and grants, and building partnerships with the private, social and voluntary sectors. Countries should also seek to address constraints on women’s access to quality employment in the formal sector and invest in promoting women’s access to new and labor-saving agricultural technologies to boost production, including innovative technologies aimed at supporting climate-smart agricultural approaches.
Removing hurdles faced by African women can create future business leaders and drive growth
To end poverty and accelerate development in the continent, women in Africa must be able to develop their full potential as business leaders. According the AfDB Gender Index, African women are both economically active and highly entrepreneurial. They form the backbone of Africa’s agricultural labor force, and they own and operate the majority of businesses in the informal sector. However, they are predominantly in low-value-added occupations that generate little economic return and they face an array of barriers that prevent them from moving into more productive pursuits. The challenge in Africa is not one of encouraging women to be more economically active, but rather to remove the barriers to women becoming more efficient business leaders.
Outside agriculture, African women’s labor force participation rates are high throughout Africa, except in North Africa. However, African labor markets are heavily gender segregated, with women working primarily in low- paying occupations. African women are far more likely to be self-employed in the informal sector than to earn a regular wage through formal employment where they earn on average two-thirds the salary of their male colleagues.
– EGYPT TODAY
How To Bridge The Gap Between Baby Boomers and Millennials | Anna McCoy
I want to take a moment to thank all of the amazing guest I have had the privilege to share in their stories this month on #AnnaLive, a show committed to elevating, educating and inspiring next gen entrepreneurs by promoting their brilliance and allowing them to promote themselves. Friday is our final show to round off celebrating Women’s Month. Last week I interviewed Inyang Sammie-Orungbe from Lagos, Nigeria and our in studio guest Emra Smith, CEO, International School of Story. Check out their stories on last week’s show.
While doing on the street interviews and speaking with women and men of varying ages I learned many weren’t even aware that it was women’s month, and I am making a personal commitment during this month each year to highlight women and their dreams.
To wrap up International Women’s Month we are going to complete this week with our #WatchHerRise entrepreneur series feature with a very special young woman who I adore and am super proud of, Daryl McCoy Chard, my bonus daughter and my co-host this week. She is smart, funny, vision-oriented and what I love most is she is compassionate, concerned and is quick to serve her community. She has taught me so much over the years, her wisdom is ancient and her energy is contagious. Join us on Friday at 10am CST, broadcasting live on Facebook. This week, Episode 8 Bridging the Gap, is all about how Millennials and Baby Boomers can learn from each other, collaborate for greater insight and dialogue about the challenges and opportunities of the entrepreneurial journey.
My friend, Steve Hitz who describes himself as a Baby Boomer with a Millennial heart, writes in his new book, Entrepreneurial Foundations for 20- and 30-Somethings targeted towards millennials or the rising generation, he states, Millennial’s were born to be entrepreneurs, it’s coded in their DNA and they are poised to be some of the greatest entrepreneurs who have ever lived. (I loved this!) He has employed over 10,000 millennial’s and states that the entrepreneurial life for this rising generation offers some truly incredible benefits and opportunities. In his experience, the most empowering aspects of becoming an entrepreneur now for the Millennial include:
- The ability to take more control of your life.
- A unique sense of job security as you learn to trust yourself, your ideas, and your capabilities.
- Incredible personal growth.
- The chance to break down externally-imposed constraints to pursue non-traditional paths.
- The opportunity to dismantle corporate hierarchies.
- Freedom to re-negotiate your reality.
- The chance to create your own flair.
- The resources to make a difference in the world and give back on your terms.
What I do enjoy about this rising generation is their ability to learn on the fly, adapt as they go and maintain a sense of adventure. I think we all can learn something quiet incredible from how they process working in the world today and how they show us how to evolve with less drive to climb the ladder of success but rather to be more compassionate, empathetic and authentic to prefer people over profits (we can unpack this in another show.)
Working with this group on producing Anna Live, I am appreciating how they focus on the outcome rather than being bogged down by systems and structures (not to mention their ability to do everything on that phone, i.e. walking, talking, laughing and multi-tasking!) I am leaning heavily toward adopting this Millennial heart in so many ways too (except multi-tasking, that drives me nuts although I am guilty.) I too, like them, want to be free, I want to travel, I want to be nimble and agile to adapt to what comes my way too and I can see the beauty in a mindset that simplifies abundance rather than strive for it.
Check out this clip, it’s a hoot and a holler, I am learning, people! Linda Wallace, my BFF, Emra Smith and I decode the Millennial lingo! Prepare yourself!
I am elated to hear from two young women of this rising generation as well as some individuals we met on the street interviewing about their awareness on women’s month and their entrepreneurial ideas.
Our guest this week:
Daryl McCoy Chard is the Vice President of UrbanAmerica, a real estate development entity, which as a result of concentrating its efforts in urban markets, has invested in over $2 billion of real estate and created more than 27,000 jobs for residents of low income communities. UrbanAmerica’s notable list of investors includes the nation’s largest public and private pension funds and top banks and insurance companies.
She is also an active Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. One of her passion projects is helping returning citizens find quality housing and is a criminal justice reform advocate and activist. A passion for fighting injustice fuels all that she pursues professionally and personally.
Daryl credits any success she’s had to her faith and also to the amazing women that have mentored her spiritually, personally and professionally. https://www.facebook.com/DrAnnaMcCoy/
In 1987 Baby Boom the movie starring Diane Keaton, hit the big screen and one of my favorites scenes was her character, a New York Executive, brought her niece home after her parents were killed in an accident, she was clueless about what to feed a toddler and ended up with spaghetti all over the walls. So spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it, Diane’s character built an empire selling baby food. If you have a chance to watch it is a great movie showing the #BabyBoomers introducing the “off ramp” culture for women exiting that corporate environment right at the time the Millennial’s were coming into being!
Meet the #Millennial who is about to be a repeat of this inspiring movie, she is the founder of Rooted Baby, Brook Cobourn. Rooted Baby was founded in 2017 as an answer to the need for healthier, convenient baby food options. After researching how baby food could be shelf-stable for so long and what it does to the quality of the food it became evident that a solution was needed. Not only does the processing remove nutrients but there are few options on the shelf that are low in fruit sugar. By partnering with local farms for our produce we are using the freshest ingredients because they are harvested right before they are whipped into your little ones meal.
Furthermore, research shows that taste buds are developed and the all-vegetable options lacked flavor. No wonder it’s so hard to get kids to eat their veggies! With all the info discovered, combining education through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, research, consulting experts and making all her son’s baby food, Brooke Cobourn founded @RootedBaby.
Rooted Baby Ingredients:
- Organic produce
- Passion for a healthier future
Did I say, I am super excited to meet this woman. You must check out her IG @rooted_baby, baby or not, you are going to salivate looking at these pictures, baby food should be good! Just for fun check out this clip on #lifeswap with #strahanandsara and you will understand how #dope and necessary Brooke’s #babyfood really is! Enjoy!
Millennials and Baby Boomers alike join me this Friday, March 29, on Facebook at 10 a.m. CST @DrAnnaMcCoy to join us in meeting in the middle as we #bridgethegap. As women, we have so much we can learn from each other. Be part of the conversation! #ItsOn #entrepreneur #millennial #buildingbridges
Share your thoughts on how we can bridge the gap between the generations and collaborate for a better future for all.
CEO, Empowering a Billion Women Foundation
The 7 Essentials of Child Abuse | Amira Kamel
Children are like diamonds. It is entirely up to us to make them shine or not. If we cannot help them shine, then at least we can help them not to break.
In this article, we will go through the 7 essentials of child abuse that every adult needs to be aware of to keep children safe.
1- What age range do children fall under?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines a “child” as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18.
2- What is child abuse?
Child abuse is any action by another person (adult or child) that causes significant harm to a child.
The World Health Organization distinguishes four types of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.
Physical abuse means hitting, beating, and shaking.
Sexual abuse means sexual contact or exposure to sexual acts or materials.
Emotional or psychological abuse means threatening, insulting, ridiculing, or confining.
Neglect means failing, despite having the means, to provide medical care, education, shelter or other essentials for a child’s healthy development.
An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.
3- Child Abuse Statistics
- 5 children die every day because of child abuse.
- 1 billion children aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, emotional violence or neglect in 2017.
- 1 in 4 adults were physically abused as children.
- 23% of the children were physically abused.
- 36% of the children were emotionally abused.
- 16% of the children were neglected.
- 18% girls and 8% boys were sexually abused.
- 90% of abused children know their abuser.
- Only 10% of child abuse victims disclose their story out of fear.
- Every year, about 41,000 children under 15 years are victims of homicide.
- Research shows that children with disabilities are four times more likely to suffer from abuse or neglect.
4- What increases the risks of child abuse?
First: Having parents or caregivers who:
- Suffered abuse or neglect as children.
- Misuse drugs or alcohol.
- Are involved in other forms of violence, such as intimate partner violence.
Second: Living in communities that:
- Have high unemployment.
- Lack support services for families.
- Have high tolerance for violence.
Third: Living in societies that:
- Don’t have adequate legislation to address child abuse.
- Have cultural norms that promote or glorify violence.
- Have social, economic, and health policies that lead to poor living standards or socio-economic inequality.
5- Child Abuse Consequences
Adults who were abused or neglected as children have a higher risk of:
- Perpetrating or being a victim of violence.
- High-risk sexual behaviours and unintended pregnancies.
- Harmful use of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.
- Studies show that child abuse has high economic costs — in medical expenses, legal costs, and lost productivity.
- Child abuse can actually slow a country’s economic and social development.
6- How can we identify a child abuse case?
The appearance and behaviour of a child define the abuse type children are being exposed to.
Some of physical abuse appearance signs are bite marks, burns, frequent injuries, and/or wearing long sleeves to cover them. Children suffering physical abuse are usually shy, hard to get along with, avoidant, anxious, and/or afraid of parents.
Some of sexual abuse appearance signs are torn, stained or bloody clothes, and pain or itching in genital areas. Children suffering sexual abuse have inappropriate sexual touching of other children, extreme reluctance to be touched in any way, abrupt change in behaviour, and/or sexual behaviour or knowledge that is inappropriate for the child’s age group.
Emotional abuse behaviour signs are more obvious than appearance signs. Some of them are withdrawal from friends and social activities, frequent lateness or absence from school, loss of self esteem, defiant behaviour, and/or changes in school performance.
Some of neglect appearance signs are poor hygiene, dirty hair, body odour, clothes inappropriate for the weather, and/or in need of medical or dental care. Children suffering neglect are often tired, have no energy, lethargic, and/or beg or steal food.
7- How can we prevent child abuse?
1- Raise awareness of parents and caregivers regarding child development and healthy positive strategies for raising children.
2- Educate and train children to improve their knowledge of abusive situations and teach them social skills to protect themselves and to interact in positive ways.
3- Promote norms and values that support pro-social and non-violent behaviour.
4- Strengthen income and economic interventions to increase investments in children.
5- Respond and support services to help children that have been exposed to violence.
6- Create and sustain safe environments for children.
7- Implement and enforce laws, such as laws banning violent punishment of children by parents, teachers or other caregivers.
– United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
– World Health Organization
– INSPIRE: Seven strategies for Ending Violence Against Children
– National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
– My Body is My Body Programme
– Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina
Regional integration remains low, according to African Regional Integration Index (ARI)
The Index, known as ARII, was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress
MARRAKESH, Morocco, March 24, 2019/ — The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marks a momentous milestone for Africa but preliminary findings of the upcoming 2019 African Regional Integration Index, released at the on-going Conference of Ministers in Morocco on Saturday, indicate that regional integration in Africa remains low.
The Index, known as ARII, was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress.
The findings reveal that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is the most integrated region in terms of trade, with South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent.
In the five areas that were analysed – trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration – South Africa topped the ranking; with South Sudan as the least integrated mainly because of its modest performance in regional infrastructure and financial integration.
Meanwhile, integration in services, contributed more than 53% of the continent’s GDP, but ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people has been slow, despite the 2016 launch of the Common Electronic Biometric African Passport, and the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The Continent’s large infrastructure deficit remains a major hindrance to intra-regional trade.
“It is up to Africans themselves to ensure that the initiative benefits them through hard work and efficient implementation of the mechanisms of the CFTA,” says David Luke, Co-ordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, Regional Integration and Trade Division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) (www.UNECA.org).
Leila Mokadem, Country Manager and Resident Representative in Morocco for the African Development Bank (AfDB) added that despite the “tremendous” political support for the AfCTFA, there are still major challenges ahead in terms of implementation and pushing the agenda forward to meet the goal of increasing intra-African trade to 25% by 2023 from between 15% and 18% currently. She cited weak productive capacity in Africa, high production costs, large infrastructure deficits and other challenges that affected Africa’s competitiveness. This is compounded by the number of small markets and 16 landlocked countries. “We cannot gloss over the challenges, but it is important to underscore the fact that it cannot be business as usual if Africa is to progress.”
The final ARII and the accompanying Assessing Regional Integration in Africa IX Report will be released later in the year.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
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