THE African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) has stated that gender inequality is drawing back economic advancements on the continent.
"Most development professionals agree that gender inequality is bad for economic growth and one of the key development challenges for Africa is the continent's continued grappling with it, whereby men and women continue to experience inequitable access and control of the resources and process that govern their lives," stated Prof William Lyakurwa the AERC Executive Director.
AERC which is currently holding its 37th plenary session on Gender and Economic Development in Africa has noted that set millennium development goals can only be achieved if the continent is able to draw on all its resources and talents but even then, women must be allowed and enabled to participate fully in social, political and economic activities.
"It is important to note that this has nothing to do with female and gender activism being purported by some mission-oriented activist groups; we are talking about serious issues of unbiased opportunity in pushing for our development goals," said Prof Lyakurwa.
A statement from the consortium indicates that most African countries have prepared their long-term national development strategies like Tanzania's Vision 2015 and Kenya's Vision 2030 aimed at among other things, mainstreaming gender equity in all aspects of life.
It was also discussed during the Arusha-held sessions that by 2020 Africa's population will be reaching 2 billion but around that same time, the continent's labour market will only be able to create employment for just 40 million people.
That is despite the fact that Africa's ample natural resources, including massive hectares of arable land for farming, minerals and water sources have not fully been utilized and these could fill the gap of unemployment.
Apparently, Africa is said to be lacking capacity to utilize its natural resources while on the other hand much of the continent's already tapped economic potential is being politicized.
Africa also has the largest gender gap in education with only 51 per cent of women aged 15 years and above able to read and write compared to 67 per cent of males and that is only on basic, primary education. The number of women again decreases with higher levels of education.