Article written

  • on 08.05.2014
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Including Women in Africa’s Economic Growth: A Conversation with Bineta Diop 0

Such a voice has never been so necessary: while world leaders and captains of industry converge on Nigeria’s capital, more than 200 schoolgirls have been kidnapped by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in the country’s northeast. Boko Haram’s tactics, as well as popular outrage over the Nigerian government’s slow response and deceptions about rescue operations, have cast a pall over WEFA’s opening on 7 May.

Ms Diop, founder of the NGO Femmes Africa Solidarité, is a leading global advocate for women’s rights and development in Africa. Her success in innovating gender-focused solutions to the continent’s most pressing challenges gained Ms Diop a Time 100 recognition and an appointment as the African Union’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security.

It also led to the Senegalese native being selected as WEFA 2014’s unique female co-chair for its first conference in West Africa.  “I have been following WEF for many years, since their first engagement in Africa, and pushing for greater inclusion of gender issues on the agenda,” she tells This is Africa.

Diop was an early voice connecting women’s social issues to economic affairs first around the issue of HIV-Aids, and then with regards to peace-building activities in conflict zones.

“We attracted some attention [at the WEF] 15 years back discussing the impact of HIV on the private sector, in terms of labour output. More and more they also realised the impact of security issues on the business world,” she says.

“There was a huge gap in Africa for women’s empowerment in post-conflict reconstruction. We started saying that effective economic reconstruction in countries needs to include investment in women.”

Ms Diop explains that she and others have since pressed for women’s empowerment across all economic sectors in Africa, especially agriculture. While women represent 70 percent of Africa’s agricultural labour force and produce around 90 percent of all food, they are often subject to strenuous working conditions and large wage inequality gender gaps. Women in African agriculture are also increasingly vulnerable to economic displacement from land grabs due to undocumented property rights.

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