Niamey, July 12, 2019 - —The financial resource mobilization round table of the Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend in the Sahel (SWEDD) project, under the theme, “Investing in Women's Empowerment and Human Capital as a Development Strategy for Growth,” was held on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Niamey, Niger. Organized on the sidelines of the African Union Summit by the Ministry of Population of Niger, in collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the West African Organization for Health (WAHO) and GBCHealth, the roundtable was chaired by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, in the presence of the First Ladies of Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Ghana, representatives of First Ladies, Prime Minister and Ministers of Niger, a dozen ministers from SWEDD countries, representatives of the delegations of the various beneficiary countries, UNFPA, the World Bank, WAHO, the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA), the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.
Before the statement of Dr. Amadou Maiga Issa Aïssata, Minister of Population of Niger, speeches were delivered by Pr Mariatou Koné, Ivorian Minister of Solidarity, Social Cohesion and the Fight against Poverty, and President of the Regional Steering Committee of SWEDD, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, Ms. Joëlle Dehasse, Resident Representative of the World Bank in Niger, Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director General of WAHO and Mr. Abdoulaye Sory, President of the Regional Consular Chamber of UEMOA.
In his keynote speech, the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, welcomed the initiative of this round table and the commitment of the partners to continue the extension of the SWEDD project which he mentioned was launched in November 2015, in Niamey, He noted that it has made remarkable progress in its implementation, in seven Sahel countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad). These countries have benefited from the support of the World Bank, UNFPA and WAHO in the operationalization of the SWEDD project and its scaling up.
The President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, said that the SWEDD project is “a common vision that Niger shares with [other] countries on the challenges of the development of our continent, especially those related to the acceleration of the demographic transition, the empowerment of women and the development of human capital, which are the irreplaceable levers for accelerating economic growth and increasing the well-being of African populations, particularly in the Sahel region .”
UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said that reaching the demographic dividend and the Africa we want, means investing in young people, especially girls. After recalling that millions of women and girls in Africa and beyond still can not access sexual and reproductive health and rights, Dr. Kanem mentioned the three transformative results of UNFPA by 2030. “Africa's success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063 will depend on women's empowerment and the level of autonomy they achieve,” she said.
The Executive Director observed that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. She ended her speech with a call to act urgently and boldly and have many more resources.”
Niger's Minister of Population, on her part, explained that “the mobilization of resources for SWEDD will be based on two pillars: the consolidation of the World Bank's financing as the sole donor to the project and the diversification of the funding source through the search for other donors.” During this regional round table, the impacts and results of the first phase of the project will be highlighted, as well as the need for funding for the second phase of the project to scale up the progress and successes achieved.
Pr Mariatou Koné reiterated the objective of the round table, which is to increase the investments of development partners and the private sector to enable the consolidation and extension of the SWEDD project to all 11 countries of the Sahel and beyond. Indeed, following the encouraging results recorded in the beneficiary member countries, the extension of SWEDD was desired. The goal of the project is to accelerate the demographic transition in general to improve the empowerment of women and adolescent girls and to increase their access to quality reproductive, child and maternal health services.
At the end of his speech, President Mahamadou Issoufou stressed that “The private sector with its know-how will make it possible to complete this chain and offer Africa as a whole a credible and reliable alternative for financing its development, in accordance with Agenda 2063 and the objectives of sustainable development”. Finally, renewing his commitment and the commitment of his SWEDD peers to intensify initiatives to invest national resources, the Head of State of Niger invited private partners and other donors to quickly mobilize financial resources to strengthen public-private partnerships for the comfort and reassurance of Africa’s common populations.
During the panel moderated by the ministers in charge of the SWEDD under the theme, “Empowerment of Women in the SWEDD Countries,” several achievements at the national and regional levels were presented. The ministers of Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso made strong pleas to donors to support the project.
The resource mobilization round table, made it possible to gather the strong commitments needed to scale up the project. In addition to affirming the political will of SWEDD member countries to invest women's empowerment and human capital as a strategy for growth, partners (bilateral, multilateral, private sector, NGOs, civil society) have pledged to provide their respective financial, material, technical and social support and contributions. Each of the twelve private sector representatives present at the panel expressed their support for various aspects of the SWEDD Project, including the training of women and girls, mentoring, project development, equipment provision, women's entrepreneurship, awareness raising around the project, the granting of scholarships, funding through CSR programmes, etc. The implementation of all these commitments made at the resource mobilization round table in Niamey will make it possible to participate, at the level of SWEDD member countries and beyond, in the transformation of social standards, which will ensure accelerated growth in Africa.