Calls for more economic freedom among African women and a women’s development bank were high on the agenda on the last day of the Africa for Africa Women’s Conference 2017 yesterday.
The conference, which coincided with the celebration of International Women’s Day, featured a myriad of guests at the Feather Market Centre who spoke about ways in which African women could be empowered through the moulding of vibrant and dynamic women leaders and entrepreneurs.
Conference convener and prominent businesswoman Bea Hackula called for the creation of a women’s development bank because women found it difficult to invest in rural areas.
“If any women from rural communities go to a bank and say they want to convert their homes into an [upgraded] homestead, the banks say: ‘it’s a risk, so we can’t invest in rural areas because we don’t know where our returns will be’. This is a big headache for women,” she said.
Hackula also called for the initiative to come up with mentorship and support.
“This is why most initiatives fail, because they are given money for a business plan, but there is no mentorship and skills development,” she said.
The conference was aimed at ensuring mobilisation and strengthening of women cooperatives.
The agenda focused on growing local economies while ensuring sustainable livelihoods through effective women’s cooperative structures.
Some of the key topics discussed included sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and textile, hospitality and tourism, and economic emancipation for women.
Delegates were divided into strategy teams and each assigned a sector. Each team consisted of a lead country and supporting countries that would learn how to carry out the project successfully in their own countries.
Hackula said the reason women’s initiatives tended to fail was because “they work in a fragmented manner”.
“Within our own continent we have a lot that we do not tap into – hence the vision to unite women of Africa to sustainable economic transformation.
“How do we take what we have and integrate it with other countries that are leading in various sectors to make sure that within the continent, there must be unison in what we do?”
Hackula said countries like Ghana, which have excelled in marketing their own textile materials and fashion, will provide export opportunities for local fashion and textile designers.
Hackula also called for easier access to markets for women, thus making it easier for them to market their products which are of international standard.