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Africa: The role of women in the economy

African Bulletin – The role of African women in the informal economy should be recognized and valued by including appropriate policy incentives because the economy still has many weaknesses (very limited mobilization of financial resources, low technology, irregular supply of inputs, lack of management training etc.). Certainly, several actions or initiatives have been developed in this direction (monographs, recommendations of women’s NGOs, small training projects and financing etc.).

But much remains to be done because most of the time, the policymakers’ decisions were not followed by the facts. For many African countries, the economic sector purely formal or informal does not exist. Both maintain interdependent relationships particularly in terms of labour supply, raw materials and finished products. They are two complementary aspects of the same economic reality. The African women constitute nearly 70% of the agricultural labour and produce about 90% of all food. However, the vast majority of African women are employed in the informal sector and / or in low-skilled jobs. The percentage of women employed in the non-agricultural sector is one of the lowest of the world (8.5%). This weak status of women in sub-Saharan Africa formal economy is due to one crucial factor: Insufficient access to key resources such as education and health. If decisive participation of women in some income-generating activities such as trade, and appropriate technology is now proven, there are other areas such as industry, banking and real estate that still are purely a “Male business”. Entrepreneurship and any other form of economic responsibility are very hardly accessible or even forbidden to women. But recently a new generation of African women has decided to prove and impose their capabilities, showing that economic power can also be conjugated in the feminine. From Togo, Senegal, through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, all across the African continent, many private companies are now run by women, talking business plan and brewing millions and even billions of dollars.

Thus, over the years, things have gradually changed to reach a consensus that the involvement of women in all the workings of the economic sector, even the most sensitive, is essential to the continent. However, many of these women, entrepreneurs and sometimes pioneers in the formal economy, continue to be discriminated when they create their businesses, mainly because of certain stereotypes and prejudices. Thus, many banks just “slam the door on” just by lack of confidence. For example, In Rwanda, a woman could not open a bank account without her husband permission, the Rwandan and President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Donald Kaberuka, recalled. After years of fighting, the African women entrepreneurs today are forcing compliance by defusing the toughest prejudices and clichés., and as an acknowledgment to their efforts and to encourage the woman insertion, the African Development Bank (ADB) had lunched the idea of “ The price of female innovation in Africa” to distinguish women with the most innovative projects and to spend the recognition of their involvement in development efforts of Africa.



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