THE Graça Machel Trust (GMT) yesterday launched Pan-African initiative to multiply the faces and amplify the voices of African women as a force for economic and social transformation.
The initiative dubbed Women Advancing Africa (WAA) forum seeks to constructively challenge the status quo and provide an exciting ongoing platform that enables women to convene, connect and catalyse an expansive network of African women to drive inclusive, sustainable growth across the continent.
GMT will challenge African leaders, government participants and private sector partners to design innovative solutions and commit to specific calls for action that will increase women’s economic power and elevate the role of women in African development.
“To our knowledge, there are not many places or platforms where extraordinary examples of successes by African women are showcased through this forum, we want women to come together to strategise, share and learn from each other on how to grow and develop to the next level in their economic and social journey,” Ms Graça Machel said in Dar es salaam during the launching event.
Ms Machel further said Africa’s continued journey towards full economic and social prosperity will only be achieved when women take the lead in setting the continent’s development agenda and have equal opportunities to participate at all levels in society.
The inaugural Forum will take place from 10-12 August in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and will convene more than 250 women leaders, rising stars and global champions to explore the critical role women play in shaping Africa’s future.
She said the forum will focus on three core pillars, which are promoting financial inclusion, increasing market access and driving social change. Expounding further, she said driving social and economic transformation means to look holistically at women’s’ roles and perceived value as transformation was not only about numbers, although the numbers of women represented on boards, as CEOs or department heads was important.
GMT CEO, Ms Nomsa Daniels, said on women economic empowerment, they focus on ways to deepen women participation in economic advancement.
“African women are a powerful economic force, but continue to face significant barriers across the continent,” she said. Ms Daniels said 70 per cent of African women were financially excluded and many lack access to critical markets, resources and services needed to succeed.
In a report released on International Women’s Day (IWD), the Trust found that more than 50 per cent of female entrepreneurs in East Africa cite access to finance and markets as major challenges in growing their businesses.