Africa Must Grow with Its Women

Published on 15th May 2012

While it is widely agreed that this is Africa’s Century and that the continent is the next frontier of investment, The African woman is still ignored. In Africa, women are not only the backbone of food production, but they also provide the basic necessities for families and social capital of communities. Women bear a disproportionate burden of Africa’s poverty -- a staggering 70 percent! They produce roughly 80% of Africa's agricultural output, but earn only 10 percent of income and own only one percent of property. More than two-thirds of Africa’s illiterate are women. The chance of an African woman dying because of pregnancy and childbirth is more than 20 times greater than in the United States. Furthermore, 75% of all HIV-positive women in the world are African.

A recent survey by Save the Children to determine the best and worst country to be a mother ought to send Africa’s planners back to the drawing table. Out of the 165 countries ranked in the organisation’s thirteenth State of the World’s Mothers Report released this month, Africa was conspicuously absent in the top 10 best countries to be a mother but featured 8 countries in the worst 10.

Women have demonstrated agency by organizing themselves in groups that provide social capital. They have also ventured in informal trade and are capturing most city spaces in Africa. Since they  have not passively sat to wait  for government or donor largesse to catapult them to socio-economic wellbeing, it makes economic sense to tailor planned interventions to improve their  ability to take advantage of incentives, thus enhancing overall socio-economic efficiency.


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