Despite the enormous natural, cultural and human resources in Africa, people in the continent remain very poor. However, women are more likely than men to be poor or at risk of hunger and this is partly due to social inequalities and lack of opportunities. Something women face because of their gender.
In Africa, the combination of poverty, gender discrimination and the lack of opportunity affect women negatively in many aspects of life: access to health services; education; income levels; rights to own property; access to finance; heavy households work burdens; ability to secure employment or be self-employed. Women in Africa comprise a majority of those working in agriculture, but it is estimated that they receive under ten per cent of all the credit going to small farmers - and only one per cent of the total credit for the agricultural sector.
The right of women to own property, including land, is recognized under international human rights law. Yet, in many countries in Africa, women’s property rights are limited by social norms and customs, and at times by legislation. As a result, women do not enjoy equal opportunity and status in their families and communities.
It is often argued that economic independence and empowerment of women in general, help them to move out of poverty and strengthen their position generally in their homes, communities, and countries. Women need to be actively and more effectively engaged in economic, social and political life.
There is an urgent need to economically empower African women in order to increase their contribution to faster growth, development and to reduce poverty on the continent.
We need to empower African women who produce food, raise children and drive the economy Ban KI-moon