Hundreds of African women entrepreneurs and professionals concluded that the surest means of uprooting poverty on the continent is through empowering women economically.
The consensus was reached at the Second African Women's Economic Summit ended Sunday in Nigerian capital Lagos.
"It has been great these past three days. I will not miss the next meeting. I want to see a change in my lifetime," said Cecilia Akintomide, Vice President and Secretary-General of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
"I don't want my daughters to be in the same kind of summit in the coming years discussing the same issues," said Ms. Akintomide, who represented the AfDB president, Dr Donald Kaberuka at the summit, is quoted in an AfDB statement.
Businesswomen including Chief Executives, bankers, industrialists and entrepreneurs, together with gender activists challenged policymakers, corporate organisations and political leaders to step up measures to promote women empowerment and remove barriers impeding their development.
At the summit, Nigeria's finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emphasised that women economic empowerment was no longer an option because investing in women, who constitute half of the continent's population, was the only way to sustain the growth recorded across the continent at this times.
"Women are the third largest emerging markets in the globe. Women are the third largest source of growth. One of the fastest ways to sustain current growth is to invest in women," said Okonjo-Iweala, who was a candidate in the recent election for World Bank president.
Rwanda has over the years set an example as a country with gender-responsive policies, and currently the country has the highest representation of women in parliament, with 56% women in the lower chamber of parliament.
A government policy also compels all institutions to ensure that 30 of the leadership are women.
Okonjo suggested that a specialized bank be established to cater for the financial interests of women, who do not have access to investment finance for a host of reasons.
The AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, sent a message reiterating the AfDB's commitment to continue to partner the African Women's Economic Summit in its efforts to scale up women's participation in the economic development of the continent.
Kaberuka explained that women have always played a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of Africa.
As farmers, entrepreneurs, traders and innovators, they are key economic actors in the continent, he said, adding: "I believe, strongly believe, investing in women differently is essential to revitalize our economies."
The summit received more than two dozen pledges of various kinds of support including providing education and training to its members, logistics to support new chapters, knowledge production and dissemination, and funding.