—-Minister of Finance, Alexander Chikwanda, says women in Africa have not benefitted from the economic growth the continent is experiencing.
Mr Chikwanda, who is speaking when he officially opened the Third African Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit in Lusaka today, said policy makers have not tailored policies to answer women’s specific needs while market players have exploited them in a way that they cannot grow beyond subsistence level.
He said there is need to empower women by ensuring that there is equity, more opportunities, more sustainable access to finance and resources and more gender balanced policies.
Mr Chikwanda said the marginalisation of women results in unsustainable development and failed social justice.
He urged women in Africa to accelerate banking and financial sector reforms to enhance women inclusiveness that will assist them access cheaper sources of finance and create decent employment amongst women.
Mr Chikwanda said women must also ensure the implementation of protocols that promote women’s empowerment such as SADC Protocols on gender and development that seek to achieve among other things 50-50 representation at all levels of government and commerce.
And women rights campaigner and New Faces, New Voices founder, Graca Machel, said Africa’s women must ask the financial sector why it has been excluding them.
Mrs Machel said women can contribute significantly to economic advancement if the financial sector can inspire them with initiatives aimed to improve their businesses.
She said the Summit should also be an opportunity to measure successes recorded from the 2nd Women Empowerment Summit that was held in Lagos, Nigeria, two years ago.
Africa Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka, said women must not only be profit oriented but must work towards creating financially fair society.
Mr Kaberuka said African countries have recorded growth in their Gross Domestic Product GDP that has not translated into the people’s wellbeing.
He said the struggle for financial inclusion of women is a battle that Africa must unite to fight.
Dr Kaberuka called for removal of trade barriers existing among African countries, saying barriers were hampering the continents economic growth.