AllAfrica convened a webinar to commemorate International Women's Day on Monday 7 March around the UN's theme of "Equality today for a sustainable future". Organised by the Dakar AllAfrica team, the gathering was aimed enabling African women to access decision-making bodies in order to realize their full potential and have sustainable and inclusive responses to the impacts of climate change.
According to Hawa Ba, Head of the Senegal Office of the Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA), this was a moment of celebration, a reminder of the usual challenges when trying to achieving gender equality and equity. It was a great opportunity for the panelists to magnify the resilience that African women have shown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic but also the ongoing struggle to achieve their full participation and empowerment.
The panellists included Awa Faly Ba - Country Director and Resident Representative Plan International Togo, Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane - Director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), Elisabeth Huybens, Director of Strategy and Operations, South West and Central at the World Bank, who all sent very strong messages to African leaders, and non-state sectors, particularly those investing in women in the informal sector.
In short, these specialists from various backgrounds unanimously agreed that: "The time has come to translate the discourse on the promotion of women's rights into concrete actions". This can only be achieved by their access to decision-making bodies or their presence at the table where their rights are negotiated. To this, the panellists added the opportunities offered by innovative tools such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACTFA) which, according to the Economic Commission for Africa, is a vector of gender equality towards the achievement of the Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.
To add momentum, the World Bank has added the Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend in the Sahel (SWEDD) program, which benefits countries strongly affected by climate change and security challenges. Not to mention the initiatives of the NGO Plan International to help women and girls highlight their extraordinary potential, especially in rural areas.
Imane Quaadil, Ambassador of Morocco to Ghana and Pr Amine Laghidi, President of the International Council on Mines and Energy for Africa, and International Expert in Economic Diplomacy and Development offered an example of the Cherifian model. An option that reflects the vision of King Mouhamed VI, known as a pioneer in the promotion of women's rights in Morocco and across Africa.
Despite the achievements made in this area at the African level, the challenges remain enormous. For a sustainable future for women, political will is needed. This should materialize through the establishment of training programs and a school system that facilitates the education of young girls and their retention in school. But also the eradication of scourges such as child marriage, abuse, girls dropping out of school, inter-ethnic tensions, among others.
As part of the exchanges on the "They inspire" platform, moderated by the cultural journalist, Oumy Régina Sambou, entrepreneurs working in different sectors highlighted the journey that has made them women leaders which is intended to inspire youngsters. Esi Chantal Umuraza an Activist and General Manager at Art & Travel Ltd of Rwanda, Céline Nathalie Razafindehibe, National Vice-President of VMLF (Movement for the Advancement of Women in Politics and Development), Soundous Boualam, Co-founder and CIO of Brussels Global Review and Marie France Kouakou of the NGO OWEN from Côte d'Ivoire were some of the women leaders featured.
To get to the top, they said, girls must not only know that there is no limit, but they must also show commitment, resilience, passion and generosity to deliver the best of them to humanity and their society.
Translated from the French by Michael Tantoh