The board of directors of the African Development Bank has approved a new gender strategy for 2021-2025 focusing on investing in Africa’s women to accelerate inclusive growth, the institution said.
In a statement dated Thursday, the AfDB said the strategy was anchored on three pillars, the first being empowering women through access to finance and markets.
“This is a significant milestone for the bank as it will guide our interventions in the next five years as we continue to increase our efforts to achieve outcomes and maximum impact on building gender equality on the ground for women to thrive,” AfDB director for gender, women and civil society Vanessa Moungar said.
The bank said its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa inititive, which aims to bridge the US$42 billion financing gap facing women on the continent, was key to achieving the first pillar of the new strategy as it sought to unlock $5 billion over five years to support female-owned small and medium enterprises.
The second pillar aims to accelerate employability and job creation for women by increasing access to skills and introducing more women to science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The third focuses on increasing women’s access to social services through infrastructure.
The AfDB cited data showing that gender inequality in the labour market costs sub-Saharan Africa $95 million each year.
The Covid-19 pandemic had further exacerbated the need for immediate attention to support vulnerable women and girls in fragile areas, it added.
A recent study jointly published by the AfDB, UN Women and Impact Her, based on a survey with over 1,300 women entrepreneurs across 30 African countries, showed that 80 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises had to temporarily or permanently shut down their businesses due to pandemic restrictions.
“Through this new gender strategy, the bank will capitalise on its longstanding experience, leadership and convening power as well as building on its comparative advantage to achieve maximum impact on the ground,” the AfDB said.
African News Agency