Economic participation of women ‘dismal’

By Amy Musgrave


Graca Machel giving her input during the plenary session on “Closing the Economic Equality Gap” at the 25th World Economic Forum conference held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Cape Town – While there were more women in politics in Africa, the numbers were dismal when it came to economic participation, senior women leaders said at the World Economic Forum on Africa on Thursday.

“There is an illusion of progress, rather than actual progress. We have been very busy, but we haven’t produced real change,” said a candid Phumzile Malambo-Ngcuka, who heads up UN Women, during a session at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.


Graca Machel, who wears many hats, including being the founder of the Foundation for Community Development, agreed, saying that most women were still in the informal economy on the continent.

“The informal economy… is about survival… they don’t prosper. And in the formal sector, you only get a few faces of women,” she said.

They were speaking at the session on how to close the economic equality gap. Globally, women earned between 10% and 30% less than men. Compared to men, only half of women were in full-time wage paying jobs.

Machel said that if the economic gap was to be closed, countries needed targeted programmes to train women in enterprise development so that they could enter the formal economy.

“We have to have targeted programmes… not tokens,” she said.

Robert Collymore, who is the CEO of leading mobile network operator in Kenya, Safaricom, said during the discussion that education opportunities for girls needed to be looked at from the beginning.

Also, women were just as at fault as men in that when they got into leadership positions, they forgot about other women, he said.

“I have seen so many women when they hit the C-Suite showing the same bias オンライン カジノ (as men),” said Collymore.

Women currently make up only 14% of the composition on company boards in Africa.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said that while it was important to increase the representation of women and the quality of women, at the same time men had to be held more to account to ensure greater numbers.

The seminar heard details on what Rwanda had done to improve the economic gender gap since the Rwandan genocide in the 90s. The country ranks seventh in the world when it comes to equal rights.

Claver Gatete, the Rwandan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said that besides focusing on the numbers of women in various sectors, Rwanda had introduced a legal framework to develop women and girls, which even included managing access to land.


He said that currently more girls were in primary school than boys. And while it was the opposite in secondary schools, more girls were passing.


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