Regardless of race, colour or creed, the female gender has the natural ability to create life. In Africa women unarguably have the strength to support their immediate family and communities at large In addition to child care and other household responsibilities, countless research has shown that African women are responsible for an estimated 70% of crop production, 50% of animal husbandry, 60% of marketing and nearly 100% of food-processing in most parts of Africa.
The statistics above put women at the focal point for growth in all ramifications of the African Society hence the catalytic that could maximize the vast potential transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development in the continent.
In spite of the contributions of women to socio-economic growth and development in Africa, women are often faced with persistent discrimination in both formal and informal sectors of the economy due to negligence of constitutional provisions protecting women and investing in women’s education and health. The role of the African Woman in the socio-economic growth in the African continent and beyond cannot be overemphasized considering her resilience but the traditional gender roles are holding the continent’s growth and development back.
It is good to note that the international community has continually emphasized the role of industrialization for women empowerment, especially in Africa. It is in line with this that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III).
Gender equality and women empowerment are key pillars of socio-economic growth in Africa. The need for training, development, coaching and mentoring to upgrading women cannot be ignored.
This brings to mind the million-dollar question! How can Africa’s position at the top of the international development agenda be translated into actions that advance women’s social and economic inclusion.?
The population of Africa is an estimated 1.2 billion and counting with women constituting a significant percentage which provides for them a shield that they could wield if their potential is properly harnessed. African women in the 54 sovereign states of Africa are faced with numerous challenges amongst many but not limited to the following:
A general lack of education and other skills that will enable them to effectively key into available economic opportunities in their societies.
Weak protection against gender inequality.
Constrained cultural model restricting women to object of childbearing and housekeeping including the phenomena of son’s preference and so on which has made them lag behind in life, socially, economically, politically and intellectually.
Building partnerships for the socio-economic growth of women would inescapably require ameliorating the numerous challenges confronting women through strict implementations of commitments on gender equality and women empowerment by government and other players.
The instrument of oppression such as religion and tradition need to be checkmated to curb the menace of assault, oppression, discrimination and under-representation of women in the scheme things.
There is also the need to eradicate corruption, strengthen legislation and another measure to empower women because the prevalence of corruption will pose a significant threat to the implementation of conceived plans and actions designed to improve the lots of women.
Therefore, Institutions and organizations such as the African charter on human and people’s rights and others saddled with the affairs of women will have to continuously exercise great synergies with relevant stakeholders that will aid in developing and implementing strategies, programs and plan of action that will encourage member states to end all forms of discrimination, violence against women and provision of equal opportunity.
Governments at all levels must partner both in the enforcement of legislation that empowers women as well as the development of newer modalities and measures that advances the interest of women.
The media as a tool for disseminating information sensitizing the society on the values of women and the numerous benefits of empowering them for societal growth and progress and allowing women to key into the present and future economic opportunities cannot be overemphasized.
Political organizations must step up their manifestos to provide wider access to and participation of women in political activities and be seen as doing so. The success of these Partnerships will no doubt create a snowballing effect that will throw the problems and challenges of African women into a bolder relief thereby ensuring their contribution to the socio-economic growth of Africa.
The very rich history of the significant role of the African woman both in societal phase and home affairs throughout Africa’s evolvement will take center stage in world history as we build on her strength, knowledge and wisdom as the catalyst for stimulating socio-economic growth, kick poverty out of the continent and accomplish the priority to meet the SDGs.
The African Woman is the future of the world!