4TH AFRICA OPEN FOR BUSINESS SUMMIT:
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN THROUGH AFCFTA
Thursday, 29 September 2022,
3:00pm New York Time,
Conference Room 3, United Nations Headquarters in New York
Africa is a continent of hope and promise, blessed with an
abundance of human and natural resources and possessing
myriad unique cultures, customs and traditions.
Africa, as a crucible for innovation and growth in business,
trade and development, has the potential to be at the
forefront of a paradigm shift – business models that provide
a solid return on investments, sustainably, while
safeguarding our planet and people, upholding human dignity,
and respecting the rule of law.
In 2019, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,
establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),
entered into force. AfCFTA is playing an important role in
transforming how Africa does business, internally and
internationally, and builds confidence amongst foreign
investors and trading partners.
However, regardless of the opportunities, wealth, and other
economic and other benefits that AfCFTA will bring, AfCFTA
will be a moral failure if these benefits are not shared
equitably with women and girls.
Women, who constitute a major part of the informal economy, are burdened
by systematic and patriarchal norms, including the inability
to own or inherit land, or to access financial and other
Women and girls continue to face physical and other threats
to their health, safety, and mental and bodily wellbeing and
autonomy. These have all severely impaired their ability to
achieve economic independence and empowerment.
Therefore, as intercontinental and intracontinental commerce
develops through AfCFTA, it is imperative to ensure that
women are not left behind. Women must have real
representation and voice in its implementation, and must not
be unfairly burdened in reaping its benefits.
Next year will mark the
75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human
which promises that
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
As the implementation of AfCFTA unfolds, we must seize this
opportunity to ensure that the dignity, freedom and equality
promised to women and girls are not just their stated
but rather their actual realities.
If properly implemented, AfCFTA has the potential to be a
vector for achieving a better, more equitable world, for all.