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Increasing women’s access to capital critical in Africa’s fight against poverty

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Increasing women’s access to capital critical in Africa’s fight against poverty

Women entrepreneurs continue to face greater barriers to accessing financing for their businesses
19 March 2021
Femmes vendant des œufs

The UN Economic Commission for Africa will continue to support its Member States in their efforts to improve women's access to capital, technology and digital financing, says Edlam Abera Yemeru, Chief of the Urbanization Section, of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at the ECA.

In a presentation on the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty Reduction and Gender to the ongoing 39th ECA Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, last week, Ms. Yemeru said women entrepreneurs continued to face greater barriers to accessing financing for their small and medium-sized businesses than their male counterparts.

This resulted in them failing to grow, she said, adding her division will continue to work towards the economic empowerment of women on the continent.

Ms. Yemeru said concerted efforts were needed from governments, international actors, and the financial industry to devise and sustain more gender-focused policies for the continent to register progress in women’s empowerment.

Held on the theme: ‘Accelerating Africa's progress towards the eradication of extreme poverty and the reduction of inequalities’, the committee agreed much needed to be done faster to ensure more people on the continent do not fall into deep poverty and called for the inclusion of the continent’s most vulnerable in social development policies in order to achieve true social development.

Data on women

Ms. Yemeru said the ECA will also work across divisions to strengthen data on women empowerment. She called for follow-up support to Member States that conduct time-use surveys to develop strategic responses on the workload of women in unpaid caregiving.

Ms. Yemeru also talked about the need for planned and job rich urbanization as more people continued to move to the cities across Africa. Social sector financing; managing rapid urban growth; seeking digital solutions; investing in data evidence, were some of the recommendations for countries on the continent.

Ms. Yemeru called on Member States to align their economic plans with financing and planning for sustainable urbanization and to better link urban and rural development and strengthen the interdependence between the two.

The report calls on the ECA to give more technical assistance to its Member States, especially in the area of gender legislation.

The aim of the third session of the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender was to review and provide strategic orientation to the work of the Division and share with member States the Division’s new areas of focus and policy interventions in delivering on its mandate to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequality for inclusive and equitable growth.

The theme of this year's Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is "Sustainable Industrialization and Diversification of Africa in the Digital Era in the Context of COVID-19."