Africa needs to redouble its efforts to economically empower women in line with a continental decision to dedicate this decade to their financial inclusion, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
In a weekly newsletter Ramaphosa, who is currently chairman of the African Union, said one of the greatest challenges to achieving a world free of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment was the exclusion of women — who form half of the global population — through discrimination and marginalisation.
He noted that 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference which placed the emancipation of women firmly on the global agenda.
“It is a valuable opportunity to not only review the progress made over the last quarter century, but most importantly to clearly outline the actions we must now take to ensure that women occupy their rightful place as equals in all areas of life in all societies,” Ramaphosa wrote in the column.
“For Africa, this means, among other things, that we must intensify measures to empower women economically.”
He said a forum this week of the Group of Seven (G7) major developed countries and African nations to discuss women’s digital financial inclusion on the continent, would offer an opportunity to explore how they could take advantage of technological advances to start businesses, trade and find meaningful employment.
“There is much that can be achieved by ensuring that women have greater access to affordable financial services and education,” Ramaphosa said.
“This should take place alongside other measures we are pursuing on the continent, such as efforts to increase the portion of public procurement set aside for women-owned businesses.”
He warned that unless women were brought into the mainstream of the economy, they would continue to be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.