Hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government of Rwanda, the 2019 Global Gender Summit themed ‘Unpacking constraints to gender equality’ kicked off on Monday, November 25th 2019 in Kigali.

“A world that denies women opportunities to excel is not a smart world,” AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina said in an opening speech. He estimated that in Africa over 70 percent of women are excluded financially, creating a financing gap of $42 billion between men and women in Africa.

Adesina went on to state the importance of women to the growth of any economy, “…women are the best investments any society can make.” In a study by McKinsey, equal and full participation of women can add $28 trillion to global wealth by 2025, which is an increase of 26 percent in global annual GDP.

With the belief that women are bankable, AfDB launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), to mobilize $3 billion lending scheme by banks and financial institutions for women in Africa. This will aid the financial inclusion of women in different countries on the continent.

Also speaking at the summit, Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda explains how she believes that investing in women and girls especially “through inclusive policies, legal and strategic frameworks” will set a strong stage for gender equality. Currently, 61 percent of Rwanda’s lawmakers are women, which is the highest in the world.

However, she also maintained that there are some harmful and outdated traditional beliefs common to the African continent that continues to limit women’s and girl’s mindset to what they can achieve.“we need to ensure that women have the tools to overcome the barriers they face,” Jeannette K. said. 

Similarly, a policy dialogue is needed to tackle the legal, regulatory and institutional environments that constrain opportunities for women. Kagame described the summit as an important platform to highlight issues of women’s equality.

The Summit is being organized by the Multilateral Development Banks’ (MDBs) Working Group on Gender with the vision to expand the participation of women in their communities through gender equality projects. With economic, social and political opportunities made available for women, Africa would be on the path to becoming a smarter and progressive continent.

By Treasure Nnabugwu.


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