Philanthropists, foundations, NGO leaders, policymakers, experts on gender issues, members of academia, as well as CEOs and leaders of private and public sector organizations gathered in Kigali on October 24 and 25 for the 2022 APF Conference.
Themed “African Philanthropists Closing the Gender Gap”, the conference focused on how stakeholders in the philanthropic community can advance opportunities for women and girls on the continent and sought to intensify partnerships for a more significant impact in gender equity and empowerment space. In his remarks at the opening of the conference, H.E. Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda noted that “the conference is an innovative way to bring together philanthropic actors to pull resources and make an impact on resolving the gender inequalities that exist. African women have always been agents of change and we need to support them with opportunities they can build on.”
Keynote Speaker, Professor Senait Fisseha, Director of Global Programs, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation noted that “closing the gender gap and achieving parity on all fronts is something we should do not just because it makes economic sense but because it is the right thing to do. There needs to be a coordinated effort to support causes that tackle gender inequality issues.”
The conference provided the unique opportunity to launch the Africa Gender Initiative (AGI), a bold new initiative to take action for gender equality by raising and delivering large, long-term, and flexible funding to predominantly women-led, locally rooted organizations. The initial activity of the AGI is to facilitate the mobilization of $50M over 10 years for gender equality, supporting the work of the Co-Impact Gender Fund in Africa. During the launch, H.E. Jeanette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda noted that “there is no price tag to the liberation of women, and in particular, their financial freedom.” H.E. Graça Machel, Founder, of Graça Machel Trust, commented “Women and girls across Africa are longing for equal treatment and opportunities. We need to listen to their calls and address gender inequality now as a group by joining forces and working collaboratively. The way forward is to foster more women’s leadership across the continent to create societies that allow everyone, especially women and girls to thrive.”
Gender equality remains unfinished business in every country across Africa. Women and girls have less access to education and healthcare, too often lack economic autonomy and are under-represented in decision-making at all levels. The progress that has been made towards gender equality over the past quarter of a century, though slow and incremental, does however show the change that is possible if a more concerted group of strategies and funding are provided. Educational legal reform, strengthening gender-responsive social protection and public service delivery, quotas for women’s representation, and support for women’s movements are all strategies that have made a difference and should be scaled up. Also speaking at the launch, Chair of the APF Board Tsitsi Masiyiwa noted that “gender parity is an urgency that we must all rise to address. We need more women at the forefront of the fight, and we need the exceptional skills that women bring to the table to solve the gender crisis and transform our societies.”
The conference drew approximately 200 participants from 29 countries in person and more online and had an impressive line-up of speakers such as Clare Akamanzi, CEO, Rwanda Development Board; Gbenga Oyebode, Chairman, Aluko & Oyebode; HRH Queen Sylvia, Founder, Nnabagereka Development Foundation; Osayi Alile, CEO ACT Foundation; Douglas Mboweni, CEO, Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe; Tshireletso Yvonne Diogo, Country Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation; Vongai Nyahunzvi, Teach for All, Atti Worku, Co-CEO African Visionary Fund and Nyimpini Mabunda, CEO, GE Southern Africa. Other speakers included Swithin Munyantwali Vice Chairman & Co-Founder, the International Law Institute African Centre for Legal Excellence; Emery Rubagenga, CEO, of Ishango Investments; Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor & Co-founder, of the University of Global Health Equity; Patience Mutesi, Country Director, TradeMark, East Africa; Rolande Pryce, Country Manager, The World Bank, Rwanda; Theo Sowa, Co-Chair, The Equality Fund; Uche Pedro, Founder, BellaNaija;
Olivia Leland, Founder & CEO, Co-Impact; Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, President and CEO, MEDA; Elisa Desbordes-Cissé, Chief Operating Officer, Ecobank Foundation; Bhekinkosi Moyo, Director, Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment (CAPSI) and Doreen Ndishabandi, Rwanda Chief of Staff & Director of Government Relations, One Acre Fund.
Mosun Layode, Executive Director of the APF in her welcome address noted that “APF is a vibrant community of givers who are committed to strategic and inclusive giving to support development on the continent. At this conference, it is therefore our goal to mobilize and bring people to action. We will look at what needs to be done and how to release the funds to back the steps that need to be taken.”
The conference concluded with a call to action by 3 young African girls, Moradeke Akisanya, Zulfawu Tahiru and Vannessa Mutesi sharing their desires for the continent’s future.
The event included 20 events designed to propel action on gender equality, including an opening ceremony, 9 plenaries, 3 breakout sessions, 1 fireside chat, 1 keynote address, 3 side events, the Africa Gender Initiative Launch, as well as pre and post-conference events. Sessions were aligned to areas and topics where the most catalytic actions are required to accelerate gender equality, including economic empowerment, gender-based violence, funding for health, the impact of climate change on women and girls, leveraging technology for inclusion, identifying male champions and policy engagement
About African Philanthropy Forum
African Philanthropy Forum (APF) is a strong and vibrant community of partners who through their strategic giving, investments, and influence, foster shared prosperity on the African Continent. It was incubated by the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF), a global network of strategic philanthropists and social investors committed to international causes from 2014 to 2016. In 2017, APF became an independent entity and continues to be an affiliate of the GPF.
Over the years, APF has established a strong presence on the Continent, with footprints in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe through convenings and activities. APF has also invested in the development of two Toolkits for African Philanthropists and the “Why Give” Series, which consists of interviews with Africa’s strategic philanthropic leaders to showcase their motivations for giving.
Since its inception, APF has reached over 2,500 philanthropists, social investors, and key stakeholders in the philanthropic space across Africa and the world. Through APF’s high-impact convening and initiatives, the organization has facilitated collaborations, amplified the work of change-makers, and shared best philanthropic practices and strategies for promoting homegrown development.