- Women businesses say African Continental Free Trade Area needs to deliver for women
- Inclusive social and economic development can only be attained through gender equality
(Addis Ababa) – Transformational change in Africa requires the continent’s women to be fully included in trade and the economy, experts and policymakers told the SheTrades Global event taking place in Addis Ababa.
Hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, SheTrades Global attracted more than 500 women entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policymakers to explore how to better include more women in trade.
Opening the SheTrades Global, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has the potential to change the trading landscape of Africa and boost intra-Africa trade by more than 50%. However, if policies are going to work, they need to work for everyone – and that includes women. We need an AfCFTA that works for women.’
Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, said: ‘When you empower a women, you empower a family. When you empower a woman, you empower a nation. The message is clear: we need to empower women socially and economically. To attain sustainable economic development, gender equality has to form a central part of policy. The AU is committed to playing its part in achieving this, including through the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.’
During the meeting, Ms. González announced that ITC, the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa had launched a collaboration with more than 40 women business associations representing one million African women entrepreneurs and producers to develop priorities to shape an AfCFTA that works for women. This discussion would continue into next year to ensure that women entrepreneurs and trade policymakers work in concert.
‘It was 25 years ago at the Beijing Conference when the world recognized that women’s rights are human rights and that human rights are women’s rights,’ Ms. González said. ‘We have come a long way but the fight is not over.’
The next edition of SheTrades Global will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as part of EXPO 2020.