By Ebunoluwa Sessou
PRESIDENT, African Development Bank Group, AFDB, Dr. Akinwumi A Adesina has called on African leaders to invest in women and girls as a means to fast track economic, social and a political opportunities. Adding that women are the best investments any society can make.
Adesina who also called for policy dialogue to tackle legal, regulatory and institutional environments that constrain opportunities for women noted that ensuring gender equality projects would help fight against gender-based violence.
According to him, deliberate action to end gender-based disparities and inequalities is the only strategy a smarter world must invest in.
Speaking at the recent conference on Global Gender held in Rwanda recently, Adesina explained that, a world that denies women the opportunities to excel is not a smart world.
He lamented that women have been excluded from decision making including education, access to legal rights to land and property, access to finance, leadership positions in board rooms, political processes which according to him has made the world to be short changed. He added that, the world is poorer because it excluded women and treated them unfairly in terms of labour market participation and unequal wages or unequal access or exclusion from markets or financial resources.
According to him, “A smarter world must invest in women and girls. Let us be smart and wise: women are the best investments any society can make. When they earn, they spend 90percent of their income on their households, including their husbands.
“Smart nations will invest in women. A study by McKinsey shows that equal and full participation of women can add an additional $28 trillion to global wealth by 2025 an increase of 26 percent in global annual GDP.
“Women pay back their loans, an overwhelming 90 percent. Smart banks will lend to women. In Africa, 70percent of women are excluded financially. The continent has a $42 billion financing gap between men and women. And women, who are the majority of farmers in Africa, face financing gap of close to $16 billion.
Women are life givers
Adesina explained that, “Women are life givers. Every single person in the world was born by a woman, carried in the womb for nine months. Breast fed by a woman. Carried on the back for your comfortable sleep as a child by a woman. Clothed by a woman. Fed by a woman.
“Indeed, you could do nothing without your mother who gave you life. It is a great irony then that the same women trusted to give us life are not trusted to manage the environment where we grow. The bearer of life is now denied the basics of life. They are denied access to land. They cannot inherit spouses’ property. They lack equal access to education or financial services.
World that denies women
He further warned that, a world that denies women the opportunities to excel is not a smart world. “That’s why the African Development Bank has launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, AFAWA, to mobilise $3 billion of new lending by banks and financial institutions for women in Africa, the largest such effort in history. I thank President Macron for his amazing support for AFAWA during the G7 summit and help to mobilise over $251 million for the initiative.
AFDB and Women
“The African Development Bank believes in women. Women are bankable. As multilateral development banks, we owe it to the world to not only shine the light on the challenges facing women; we must develop and launch transformative programs to tackle them, decisively.
Expand voice for women
“We must expand voice for women to participate more actively in communities, as leaders, in project design, implementation and monitoring. We must change our procurement processes to open up opportunities for affirmative procurement for women and youth.
“And we must end all forms of child marriage. To the men, hear me clearly: leave our girls alone! Marry your own age mates! We cannot sacrifice the future of our girls: let our girls be! Let our girls stay in school! Let our girls thrive! Let our girls excel! They are our best assets.
“Women do not make wars; the egos of men lead to wars. But women and their children bear the brunt of wars and conflicts. A world led by women will not have wars. Life bearers will not become life takers.
Rwanda and Women
Rwanda’s women are a great example. A small nation decimated by war and genocide which left its population with largely women. To rebuild, Rwanda had to rely on women. And Rwanda’s women are remarkable. They helped to rebuild this nation from the painful ashes of genocide and wars. Rwanda’s women are strong, entrepreneurial and determined.
“President Kagame, recognizes the power of women to build, to give life as women have been given 50 percent of all ministerial positions in Rwanda and Ethiopia has 61 percent of its parliamentarians being women, the highest in the world.
“Four of the seven Supreme Court justices are women. And today, present with us is President of Ethiopia, the first in the country’s history and the only female president on the continent. What an incredible achievement.
“No bird flies with one wing. When we fully empower women, then our economies will fly with two wings.
Our world will fly
Our world will fly finally with two wings, rising to the highest global wealth we possibly can achieve”, he said.