Women Parliamentarians: Key Actors of Women’s Economic Empowerment in Africa

  • Par Aurelie MAJO, Consultant, STRATEGIES!

STRATEGIES! had the honour to facilitate the Pan African Parliament 2015Annual Women’s Conference which took place in South Africa from October 12 – 13 with the support of the GIZ African Governance Architecture (AGA) Program. 

The Pan African Parliament Women’s Conference was launched in 2008 and since then has become an Annual Conference offering a platform to review women’s issues in Africa.  The 2015 PAP Women’s Conference focused on the role of women parliamentarians in empowering women economically, the theme was " 2015, year of Women's empowerment and development towards Africa's agenda 2063 : From Dialogue to Action."

More than 100 women parliamentarians and representatives from governments, private sector and civil society took part in this 2-day conference which objective was to provide inputs to women parliamentarians to improve their capacities to effectively advance implementation of the Maputo Protocol with a focus on women’s economic and social welfare.

 The conference was launched with the ONE Campaign song as an energizer and motivation to all participants to contribute to women’s empowerment for sustainable development in Africa. Over the 2 days, participants had the opportunity to exchange and share experience with high profile speakers and resource person such as: the Advocate Thulisile Nomkhosi Madonsela, Dr. Abdullah Hussainatu, Dr. Gudula Basaza, who helped the audience understand:

  •    The policy frameworks on women rights and African women’s rights,
  •    The African Union Gender Equality instruments
  •    The achievements and challenges faced to-date in countries with regard to the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

The Team of facilitators from STRATEGIES!  made key presentations and led group discussions to develop recommendations for women parliamentarians.  The key pillars they presented are:

  •          Public procurement,
  •          Agriculture,
  •          Access to finance and
  •          The informal sector.

At the end of the conference, parliamentarians agreed on the urgent need to define mechanisms for countries to effectively implement, monitor & evaluate the implementation of the Maputo Protocol with a focus on Article 13E related to women’s economic and social welfare. Some of the key conclusions from the conference are:

-       At the level of governments

  •   Allocate a percentage of the national budget as a fund to support women’s economic empowerment, women entrepreneurship and especially capacity building of women entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness
  •    Put in place regional investment banks to facilitatewomen access to finance
  •    Provide resources to enable local governments and municipalities address the needs of women in the informal sector

-       At the level of women parliamentarians

  •  Lobby for laws that enable women to access means of production especially land, and harmonize these laws at continental level
  •  Create the necessary legal framework to remove barriers that limit women’s access to commercial banks loans.
  •  Lobby to engender existing policies, charters, protocols and declarations.

Africa’s economic growth depends on women being empowered to contribute meaningfully to their own wealth, the wealth of their communities and the wealth of the continent.

STRATEGIES!  is proud to be one of the institutions supporting the thought and action that will enable African women become and economic force to be reckoned with!