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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Women’s economic inclusion and sustainable development go hand in hand

Supporting women-led businesses and women entrepreneurs is key to sustainable economic development, and it is critical not to lose sight of those who are underserved and underrepresented, argued former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in a recent discussion on “The Importance of Empowering the World’s Women.”

Organized by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the discussion addressed the steps that must be taken in Africa and around the world to unlock the political and economic power of women.

The economic inclusion of women, particularly the most vulnerable and those in fragile and post-conflict settings, is of utmost importance and is integral for sustainable development worldwide, Madam Sirleaf said.

Turning to the challenges faced by women in Africa, Madam Sirleaf emphasized the need for particular measures that aim to close the financing gap for women business leaders across the continent:

“There is a $42 billion gap between male and female entrepreneurs in Africa. This gap is suffocating for innovation and is silencing the voices of some of Africa’s brightest minds.” 

Madam Sirleaf also voiced her belief that “economic empowerment and political empowerment are inherently interlinked,” adding that this has been a driving force behind the work undertaken by the EJS Center to promote and develop African women leaders.

Calling on the DFC to support the empowerment of women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa and to partner with African financial institutions, she noted that such support would create innovative solutions to address gender inequity and close the financing gap across the continent.

In addition to Madam Sirleaf, the discussion brought together the DFC’s CEO Scott Nathan and Vice President of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery.

Watch the full discussion here.

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