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
Mentoring Is The New Goldmine Towards Youth Empowerment | Gbenga Adebambo
Image: Chick-fil-A Foundation
‘’We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’’ –Franklin D. Roosevelt
Benjamin Disraeli, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” The greatest problem of youths is not money but mentoring. Mentoring is the new goldmine for youths. Youths should stop looking for money and look for mentorship. You will need people that believe in you; people that invest in your dreams and goals. People that will bring the best and not the stress out of you in life. People that will help you make informed decisions and choices towards your destination in life. Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly associate.”
Any concrete talk on youth empowerment is not complete until mentoring is fully integrated. That is why any youth empowerment programme that do not design mentoring into its process has already failed before take off! When youths don’t have models and mentors to look up to, they tend to go in different destructive directions. Mentoring is the most monitored, measurable and sustainable way of ensuring youth empowerment. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defined a mentor as “an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time.” The pertinent question to ask is this: What is the older generation doing to model the youth?
Zig Ziglar said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” The youths of a nation are a deep reflection of the values passed down from the older generation. The mistake of the youth is actually a result of the failure of the older generation.
Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” Behind every successful person, there’s a mentor who helped them along the way. Some of the most influential people in history were encouraged to succeed by some of the most well-known people of their time. Socrates mentored Plato; Plato mentored Aristotle, and Aristotle mentored Alexander the great. Alexander the great actually broke the loop because when he was supposed to be mentoring youths and building people, he was busy building empires! He died without investing into others, and his legacies also died with him.
A mentor is an embodiment of six notable qualities derived from the word “MENTOR”. He or she Motivates, Encourages, Nurtures, Trains, Organizes, and help youths Reach their potentials.
1. Motivates: Norman Ralph Augustine said, “Motivation will almost always beat mere talent”. You can be motivated and have no talent and get far, but without motivation, the talented won’t get off their couch to show the world what they’ve got. There are many youths out there that are talented but lack motivation.
2. Encourages: Plato once said, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow”. Your words of encouragement could be the spark that pushes a person forward. Encouragement energizes and empowers. Shawn Hitchcock said, “A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained”.
3. Nurtures: A real mentor helps in discovering and nurturing the gift and potentials in others. Choosing a mentor is the most critical step to success in life, be it in business, career, relationship and politics. A mentor challenges and stimulates you to be the best at all times.
4. Trains: A mentor will train you and not drain you. The people around you will either fuel you or drain you. So choose them wisely. I repeat, choose them wisely! When people have encounters with you, do you leave them drained or blessed, exhausted or fuelled? I made up my mind long time ago to always leave people more inspired than I met them.
5. Organises: A mentor reduces the degree of disorderliness in the mentee. Youths that refuse to get organized will eventually agonize! The first step to getting organized is to get your priorities right. A mentor will help you prioritize your priorities.
6. Reach your potentials: Mentors stretch their mentees beyond their comfort zone to reach their potentials and achieve great things. A mentor helps you look within yourself to fire up your hidden potentials.
Mentoring is not about making everybody else the same as you. Any man that encourages you to be someone else has already despised your purpose of existence. A real mentor understands the fact that you can never be at your best when you try to be someone else. The greatest platform that a mentor can ever give to you is to help you be yourself and express yourself. Don’t make people the best version of yourself, make them the best version of themselves. If you are not inspiring youths, then you are helping them to expire! Mentor someone, instead of casting people down and finding faults in others. Kenneth H. Blanchard in his best-selling book, ‘The one Minute Manager’ said, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results.” How you make others feel about themselves is very important. Do you make people feel better or bitter? Mentees actually need models and not critics! Mentees most times need their efforts to be acknowledged.
If all the entrepreneurs, business moguls, celebrities, politicians, artistes, philanthropists, technocrats, and professionals can reach out to mentor the youths in their circle of influence, then the world will change for the better. Successful people should go back to their communities to mentor youths. I have often said it over times that if you are not a mentor, then you are a tormentor!
A mentor is someone who builds you up, has your best interest at heart. Even in the midst of your own personal doubt, they will never give-up on you. They inspire you through their deep and tenacious belief in you. Positivity fuels productivity. Don’t expect to see positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people. Try spending more time around people that infuse positivity into you and affirm your worth. As a youth, reach out to someone that is already where you want to get to in life. Book an appointment with them; buy their books and listen to their messages. Someone already has the experience you desire, locate them and glean from their wealth of experience. Mike Murdock once said, “Pay any price to stay in the presence of extraordinary people.”
Quote Of The Week From The Author: ‘’If you want to go further, get a father’’- Gbenga Adebambo
The Society Expects More From Youths
Hear Ariel Foundation International Young Associate Ambassador, Abigail Oppong as she elaborates on the need for youths to step up their game and create more impacting works for society.:
One of the challenges I have gotten to realize about most Youths in our society nowadays is the fact that, we want everything in the pot to be cooked for us without knowing what goes into the preparation of what is being cooked for us. We keep going astray because when the pot is left for the youths to do it ourselves, we messed up. The reason is so simple, we only got to know about the content in the pot after is being served. The future is Youths and we need to start acting now as the future leaders beginning from the renewing of our mindsets to learn how to prepare ourselves.
It is time we learn to see opportunities and act proactively towards them. There are a lot of forums, workshops, talks and the likes to help leverage the potentials of youths but that can never be achieved if the youths “ourselves” still have the mindset of having everything cooked for us. And thus, a quest for leaders to also include youths 100% in their decisions and plans concerning agendas to help youths in community developmental projects.
Each one of us has a specific formula to help make an impact. This individual formula is known to us personally and we have the key to unlock it within ourselves to get answers to that (mathematics) questions we keep asking for years. Our internal mindset is enough.
IF YOU FOLLOW “THEY SAY, THEY SAY”, YOU WILL GO WITH THEM AND FORGET ABOUT THE FORMULA IN YOU. LET’S BE VIGILANT
Being a leader is being human. Until then, we will still be the spectators cheering and making comments (bad or good) to the works done by other people. Remember starting is better than nothing.
YOUTHS ARISE AND LETS’S ACT PROACTIVELY NOW. WE ARE THE CHANGE
SOCIETY CRIES FOR US NOW AND THE FUTURE TO COME
SEVEN USEFUL TIPS FOR MY FELLOW YOUTHS
- Accept no one’s definition of your life. Define yourself. It is your life, not theirs.
- You are more than enough
- Follow your rules and principles (Specifics)
- Devote your time to something to create something that give you purpose and meaning
- Try to get the best version of yourself
- When things go wrong ………. don’t go with them.
- Be Proactive and don’t let anyone take advantage of your innocence
- You are not too young to start making change, you are the changemaker.
- Be Fearless and humble
- Accept mistakes but don’t tolerate excuses
Don’t forget to follow Ariel Foundation International on Facebook for the Ariel Foundation International (AFI) Dialogue as we discuss more about Youthful topics that will help us build up our community together. This Facebook Live will showcase the AFI Young Ambassadors around the world and other leaders who will be sharing their works and knowledge about topics for discussion.
Trust the Process
More Action Needed
Abigail Oppong is a humanitarian young African lady who passionately work to impact life. She is a Young Speaker, Mentor, Changemaker, Young Activist, Motivator and a Social Entrepreneur.
Challenges of life as a Young African lady, growing up in the continent of Africa where the girl child education wasn’t prioritized has given her a much-presented experience for her to give back to community in empowering women and girls whiles firing in more energy to serve as a role Model and help Youths in Africa think differently.
Abigail Oppong is the Youth Ambassador for Ariel Foundation International focusing on Africa and making the voices of African Voices heard. As the Director of communication and Development at TiemeNdo, she focuses on empowering more women and youths in the field of Agriculture and help them to develop economically. Being a changemaker, she is passionate about social impacts project that seeks to empower women, children and youth. She is the Co-Founder for Universal Care for Africa, an initiative aiming to provide a free healthcare opportunity for the rural communities in Africa and the Ghana Ambassador for Global Success Society.
Passionate about women in Technology, she is working diligently to makefree access to the needed technical resources for young girls to stand firm in their STEAM Courses and professionally.
Abigail is skilled at Information Technology, Project Management, Entrepreneurship, Humanitarian, Communication, Design Thinking, Graphic design, leadership, Personal Development, Public Speaking.
She is a Recipients of the “Young Leaders Creating a better World for All award” at the Women Economic Forum, 2019 and the first youngest leader to receive such an international award from the Women Economic Forum.
Her Next Movement is to Global Initiative to help more youths especially the young leader to be the “PRO” in their fields as a leader. She is a Role Model to all Young Women out there. An inspiration and a world changer.
One word that encourages her everyday is the fact that, “our capabilities and abilities are enough to help us scale and make an impact; money will not. Money can not buy our passion”. She said this when someone asked her how she gets all her impactful work done as a Youth and still in school.
Credit: Dr. Ariel King – President Ariel Foundation International
How To Find Your Voice And Use It Contents
Finding your voice is critical in every aspect of your life – school, your career, business, your ministry and especially in your Marketing. We already have one of “them” so be an original YOU! Words are the most powerful tool we have. They can inspire, build, lift, and provide meaning and hope. They can break, destroy, undo, and cause great harm. It is up to us to insure the right words are used.
I cannot stress enough how important your own voice is. When put in certain positions, no matter how scary, you must stand up for yourself.
No one can make you do what you are not contented with. There is no one that can stop you from choosing what you think is best. If they agree with it or not it’s our resolution. You are in control of how you treat your voice, its best you learn that early on. I have learned over the years that even though I may not be able to control what my body does, I can control how I treat it. Take it into consideration and be able to work with what you think is best. You have to find your limits.
Once you find them you have to insure you do not push them too much. There is nothing worse than having a massive panic attack in the middle of a procedure. I have the worst anxiety.
How can you find your voice? What are the things you need to discover when finding your voice?
They are just few listed below they are just an instruction manual which are subjects to change at the long run but at the meantime, let’s learn from them.
What is your inherent ability? What are those things that you have mastered in the course of your life? Are there tasks, skills, or opportunities that you have simply mastered and can do without thinking? These low-friction activities might give you a clue to ways you can continue pursuing your voice. We learn through action, observation, and then correction. Start with what you do well, and work your way toward your goal. Have a goal with good desire. A goal is a desired result that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve: a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.
A purpose and aims are not the same as a goal- they are kind of similar to one another. They are the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.
What irritates you? To be a super hero you must be willing to have a bad guy. Without one, the super hero has nothing to fight against. Are there specific things that induce a sympathetic annoyance in you? (Key point of variation: this is not about road rage, poor service, or leaving the seat up. We’re speaking about the general things that induce a craving to interpose in a situation as an act of compassion or to resolve a great wrong.)
What makes you Emotional?
Think about the last numerous occurrences that instigated you to be very emotional to the extent that you could not control your emotions but to cry. Movies are fair game too. I’ve noticed that I almost always tear up while watching stories of losers who overcome incredible odds. This is a clue to me that my greatest work may somehow involve fighting for those who are oppressed or unheard
What gives you hope?
What do you look forward to? What great vision do you have for your future and the future of others? Hope is a powerful motivator, and can give you a clue to the ways in which you may be able to compel others to act.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? We often forget the earliest clues to our voice as we are burdened with the expectations of peers, teachers, parents, and eventually the marketplace. But those early days of wonder – the vast expanses of horizon that hinted at limitless possibility – can give us insight into the deeper seeds of fascination that still reside within us. So…what did/do you want to be when you grow up?
If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you do? It amazes me how few people have asked themselves this question, and it amazes me more how few people can arrive at an answer when they do. We believe that a lack of resources is the problem to our happiness and fulfillment, but for many of us the limitation has nothing to do with a lack of money or time. The limitation is our fear of falling short of our own self-perception. We point fingers at others because we can’t reconcile our own fear of engagement. We don’t think about limitless possibility because we are afraid of what would happen if we were to get it.
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