The Women Deliver 2023 Conference that took place last week in Rwanda was a major focal point for those working to advance gender equality on the African continent and beyond.
With its multi-sectoral approach and its ‘Spaces, Solidarity, and Solutions’ theme, the conference offered a platform for policy-makers, experts, and advocates from around the globe to discuss the way forward for gender equality and the policies that accelerate progress for women and girls.
Taking part in the discussions, Amujae Leader Malado Kaba shared her expertise and vision for gender equality, drawing from her career spanning over 25 years which has involved developing public policies and impactful gender and development strategies.
As the Director of Gender, Women and Civil Society at the African Development Bank (AfDB), Ms. Kaba led the AfDB’s delegation to the Women Deliver Conference which showcased new programs and policies, and explored opportunities for collaborations to advance gender equality. AfDB earmarked $300,000 to support the Women Deliver 2023 Conference as one of its main partners and as a sign of its commitment to women’s role as leaders in sustainable development in Africa and around the world.
Speaking at a side event convened by AfDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the theme of ‘Accelerating Inclusive Economic Growth by Advancing Women’s Economic Power,’ Ms. Kaba addressed the measures that governments and the private sector can take to enhance women’s economic participation and harness their power as entrepreneurs and business leaders.
She and her fellow panelists also explored the policies that facilitate the inclusion of African businesswomen in their countries’ formal economies, and delivered clear messages on the importance of gender equality for Africa’s development:
“If we are serious about fulfilling the vision set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must prioritize gender equality.”
Ms. Kaba echoed her belief in the transformative power of women’s economic participation in an interview with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Flagging AfDB’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative – which aims to increase access to finance for women entrepreneurs – she stressed the importance of “investing in women” as a catalyst for growth and development:
“African women are some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs in the world… For every $10 these women earn, $9 goes back to supporting their families and communities. All of this has a positive impact on the economy as a whole.”
As one of the largest global conferences to address the issues affecting women and girls around the world, the Women Deliver 2023 Conference brought together a group of distinguished women leaders to share their vision of a more inclusive and equitable world. Discussing the role of women in Africa’s financial sectors, Ms. Kaba joined former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Amujae Leader Clare Akamanzi in an event co-hosted by AfDB and the Angaza Awards.
Ms. Kaba’s discussions with the women leaders focused on the most effective ways to narrow gender gaps in the financial sector across Africa and promote women’s financial inclusion:
“Elevating more women to senior leadership positions is critical for ensuring that financial institutions provide products and services that meet women’s unique needs.”
Ms. Kaba also shared success stories of African women entrepreneurs who have been supported by the AfDB and its AFAWA initiative in her remarks delivered at a session focused on the Maputo Protocol and the progress achieved 20 years after its adoption.
The conference was also an opportunity for Ms. Kaba to advocate for innovative inclusive policies and solutions in meetings with government representatives and financial sector leaders. Her discussions with Rwandan Equity Bank and Ecobank Rwanda explored different pathways for supporting women entrepreneurs across the continent.
Africa is home to the largest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world. Policy-makers, regulators, and stakeholders must come together to increase their financial inclusion and fully unlock their transformative economic power.
Read more about AfDB’s AFAWA and the efforts to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa here.