No effective conversation on development can be held without first identifying the groups which are mostly affected by underdevelopment. Identifying and profiling the most vulnerable groups will help stakeholders create policies that can improve their lives. In Africa, a huge percentage of women are not socioeconomically empowered.
Compared to men, women have less access to resources that can help improve their lives. The inability to access these resources is not solely borne out of its unavailability but due primarily to a disparity that breeds inequality among the women and the men.
Most African governments have made significant progress in eradicating gender inequality, especially in areas of domesticating International policy instruments, despite their commendable efforts only a few of these governments are committed to implementing their own policies, hence the need to have women at the forefront of policy formation and implementation.
Gender inequality is not a natural phenomenon it is entrenched in societies that have for years assigned specific roles to women. These roles are mostly domestic in nature, the ability of women to get involved in activities that are capable of generating income and a source of livelihood for them are greatly limited especially in underdeveloped countries.
Africa has one of the lowest rates of female participation in the Labour market across the world, you will find that women’s roles are limited mostly to childbearing and activities that rotate just within their immediate families. Lack of access to education is a major inhibition to women’s participation in the formal structure of the society, we must, however, acknowledge that more women and girls across Africa now have the opportunity to go to school and get basic and even higher education, however, the increase noted is not yet significant enough as to bridge the gap between the enrollment of boys and those of girls in schools.
The questions also remain that even for those who are privileged to go to school, how do these women fare after getting an education?
Do they have access to jobs? Do they have the opportunity to participate in decision-making structures in their countries? Do they have equal opportunities with their male counterparts?
Various policy documents such as the Convention on the Eradication of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) make it compulsory for all signatory countries to ensure that all gender gaps are filled, an evaluation of the performance of these policies, however, reveal albeit disappointingly that most African countries have failed its womenfolk.
More than ever before it has become pertinent for women to develop the roadmap through which their inherent potentials can be fully maximized despite the society’s stereotypes.
Women who have the privilege of being enlightened and educated must look out for the interest of the millions of girls and women who currently are not educated and may never be educated in their lifetime; these women constitute a significant percentage of Africa’s population.
Women need to come together and work towards ensuring that the culture and stereotypes that relegate women to the background in governance, in economy in industry and in every sector of the African society are phased out and that is why the Africa women conference is a veritable platform through which the intellectual resources of women can be pulled together to map out strategies and a roadmap for the eradication of gender inequality in Africa.