finance & economy

50 Million African Women Speak platform launched in Tunis

December 15, 2020

(TAP) - Minister of Women, Family and the Elderly, Imen Zahouani Houimel, announced, Monday in Tunis, the official launch of the national platform ' 50 Million African Women Speak platform ' (www.womenconnect.org), initiated during the World Summit on Gender organised in 2019 in the Rwandan capital.

'Since then, 14 countries have already launched their national platforms,' she said, indicating that this project is dedicated to women entrepreneurs in Africa.

At the launch ceremony of the platform, held in Tunis, Imen Zahouani Houimel announced that a media campaign will be launched from January 2021 to publicise and promote the platform to a large number of users.

Carried out through a grant of US$12.4 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the platform comes with the end of the first African Women's Decade 2010-2020 and the launch of a new Decade (20-30) as the Decade for Women's Financial and Economic Inclusion which testifies to the determination of the African continent to intensify efforts to enhance gender equality and promote women's economic empowerment, she added.

She also said that this initiative is in the spirit of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) which specifies the obligations of African states to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls.

'In Tunisia, we will work so that our platform can contribute to the implementation of the strategic axes of the African Union's Agenda 2063 for the empowerment of women and youth, the agenda of sustainable development goals 2030 and the priorities set by our government, particularly in terms of empowerment,' said Imen Houimel Zahouani.

She recalled that Tunisia has a national plan for the empowerment of women which covers a set of projects and initiatives aimed at promoting women's entrepreneurship and boosting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Among these projects is the Raïda programme, launched in 2016 for the development of female entrepreneurship and which has generated more than 4,500 projects throughout the country.

According to the Minister, this event comes in an exceptional framework to fight against an unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that could hinder the already fragile progress made in the promotion of gender equality and women's rights.

'In Africa and around the world, women entrepreneurs are the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 and continue to face obstacles such as limited access to finance and markets, information and networking opportunities, as well as disparities in entrepreneurial culture and legal and socio-cultural barriers that compromise their economic activities,' she said.

The Minister considered that the challenges of the 21st century (climate change, depletion of the world's resources, ageing of the population, social inequities, teleworking, new technologies...) imperatively require a new style of leadership.

'We must advocate a model where the respective intelligence and talents of all will be harnessed in the search for solutions to these multidimensional challenges,' she said.

For his part, Mohamed El Azizi, Director General of the regional office of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said that the situation of women in Tunisia is particular.

'Women now outnumber men in higher education. The paradox is that women are still a minority to undertake and remain marked by a particularly high unemployment rate of about 22%,' he explained, noting that women entrepreneurs in Africa represent 35% while this rate is only 20% in Tunisia.

'There is a priority field of intervention here: to encourage these talented Tunisian women to become entrepreneurs, to innovate, to take risks and to assert their definite contribution to the country's wealth,' he said.

According to him, the objective of the platform is to contribute to the economic empowerment of women by ensuring access to information on financial and non-financial services and facilitating the creation and management of businesses.

Speaking online, Mohamed Bousaid, Minister of Trade and Export Development stressed that the platform '50 Million African Women Speak platform ' is a project carried out under a partnership between the AfDB and three regional economic communities namely, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

'This project concerns 38 countries belonging to these three groupings and is in line with the overall framework of the United Nations' sustainable development objectives (SDO 2030) and particularly objective No. 5,' he said.

The minister said that COMESA is considered one of the largest regional economic groupings in Africa, given the size of its population of about 600 million people, its geographical coverage of 21 countries and its Gross Domestic Product of over $800 billion.

The platform, which targets 50 million women entrepreneurs, contains detailed information on starting, managing and expanding a business. It consists of two main sections: the resource section containing the information women entrepreneurs need and the networking section enabling women to network, learn and do business together.

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