Invited to the virtual initiative of women heads of state in Africa, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Nigerian Akinwumi Adesina took the opportunity during his speech to pay tribute to African women.
Organized by Africa.com in partnership with Coca Cola Africa, the virtual initiative of women heads of state in Africa was held March 23rd by videoconference. The purpose of this commendable initiative is to pay tribute to women Presidents of the Republic or Prime Ministers in office or who have worked on the continent. For this edition, the central theme focused on building the capacity of emerging women leaders on the continent.
In his speech, Mr. Adesina paid tribute to the achievements of women on the continent. He also affirms that if in other regions of the world women have had to break glass ceilings, in Africa they have rather broken concrete ceilings, long dominated by men. He also affirms following his speech that “a revolution is underway in Africa”.
According to the AfDB President, recent Africa Investment Forum Virtual Boardrooms generated $32.8 billion in investment interest, with $5 billion generated by women-led businesses.
The rest of the exchanges saw the speaking of women in positions of responsibility. Like Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, OBE, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Wanjira Mathai, Vice President and Director Regional Director for Africa of the World Resources Institute, Mausi Segun, Executive Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, and Kuseni Dlamini, President of Aspen Pharmacare and Massmart Holdings. They discussed important topics such as women in leadership and business, climate change, vaccine manufacturing and water security.
However, Akinwumi Adesina acknowledged that women face huge challenges across the continent when it comes to food security. According to him, many challenges still lie ahead. These include women’s lack of access to land, extension services and finance, despite women making up over 60% of the smallholder farming community in Africa.
Nevertheless, the boss of the ADB affirms that mechanisms are set up to overcome this problem. In particular the African Development Bank Group’s initiative to promote women’s access to finance in Africa (AFAWA). This initiative made $450 million available to banking institutions. This amount was only reserved for loans to businesses run by women. Acknowledging that women in business on the continent face a funding gap of $42 billion, he said that AFAWA will disburse in 2022, $500 million for businesses headed by women.
Taking part in the discussions, the former heads of state of Malawi and Liberia, Joyce Banda and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared that they wanted to promote women through their foundations. They announced at the same time that a conference will be held very soon in Malawi. The latter will focus on funding women-led organizations.
Convened following the forum on generational equality 2021 organized by the UN in Paris, the summit of women heads of state paid tribute to 22 ladies who have been presidents or prime ministers. Acting as special guests, the floor consisted of the Prime Minister of Namibia, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, and the former president of Malawi, Joyce Banda.