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Women are at risk of losing out on today’s and tomorrow’s best job opportunities
The future of our continent depends upon the full utilization of the human capital available to us; and women account for half of its population.
Throughout the world, and particularly in Africa, there is a stark under-representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professions.
Idah Chilufya is a cross-border trader in the Great Lakes region. She is a fifty-year-old widow with four children. To raise an income selling her two boxes of tomatoes, she has faced daily threats of intimidation, robbery and sexual assault.
The African economy has experienced a notable trend break in recent years – the “average” story is now no longer that of abject poverty and escalating conflict, but rather of how best to attract investment, including in new technologies, to buttress growth and sustain and share its benefits with the population. Still, being in this situation is relatively new for Africa. In past decades the continent had lurched from crisis to crisis without respite and was lauded for its resilience, while its core challenges remained unresolved.
Repeated political upheavals have, in the past 40 years greatly undermined socio-economic progress and the institutions needed for gender-equitable development in Guinea-Bissau.
In the wake of a successful transition period, the African Development Bank and UN Women have led the work on a forward-looking gender profile to take stock of the gender situation and seek ways to address pending issues.
The creative industries, particularly fashion and design, are evolving quickly and drawing career interest within African societies, politics and business. They are expected to provide well-paid jobs and help talented Africans to achieve their full potential. But as a fledgling industry, fashion faces key hurdles, such as establishing the basic infrastructure, gaining access to finance, and developing sales outlets.
As the world marks the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, access to affordable finance for female entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers through the provision of “equal economic opportunity for all” continues to be discussed extensively. This year’s theme, Pledge for Parity, calls on all individuals to join forces to ensure gender parity. It is most relevant as women have long been excluded from formal financial processes and have had to turn to the informal sector (savings schemes and cash transfers) to support unmet financial needs.
When I look back on a career of 50 years striving to expand choices for women, one of the proudest accomplishments I share with other feminists of my generation is that while young women of today face challenges, they are very different from the barriers we confronted. While there is still much to do, we have come a long way.
Africa has ample energy resources (including fossil fuels and renewables), enough to meet its energy needs, yet the continent struggles to ensure that this bounty reaches its people. Over two thirds of Africans lack access to modern energy. Sub-Saharan Africa is significantly affected, where just 290 million out of 915 million people have electricity access; and nearly 730 million Africans rely on the traditional use of solid biomass for cooking.
New innovations in the food industry, one of the world’s oldest and largest industries, are creating attractive opportunities on the African continent. With unusual blends of spices and bold flavours, ingredients and techniques from African regions have emerged as the new gastronomic trend in kitchens around the world. As on other continents, the agro-food industry plays a fundamental role in the creation of income and employment opportunities in Africa’s developing economies.