THE United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Tuesday called for introducing gender-responsive policies across Africa so as to realise the major aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The call came ahead of the imminent Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-2022), slated for March 3 to 5 in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, that will be held under the theme Building Forward Better: A Green, Inclusive and Resilient Africa Poised to Achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
‘African women-owned businesses contribute to 60 percent of gross domestic product. Women can only fully engage in trade if they live lives of self-determination,’ an ECA statement quoted Mama Keita, the director of ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for East Africa, as saying. ‘It is up to us to remove barriers in the development of the continent and offer opportunities and measure success through the eyes of women and youth.’
ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro stressed that the historic continental free trade deal is dependent on investments in gender equality while underscoring the importance of ‘tackling the obstacles women face in participating in the economy, to reduce inequality between men and women.’
The UNECA, which organised a special session entitled AfCFTA as a Vehicle for Gender Equality Towards Agendas 2030 and 2063 in line with ARFSD-2022, stressed that women are key players in the realization of the continental free trade pact.
According to the ECA, the high-level session shed light on the significance of the AfCFTA in achieving gender equality toward achieving SDG 5 and Agenda 2063 in Africa; discussed the challenges and prospects for utilising the opportunities presented by trade and AfCFTA toward gender equality in the realisation of SDG 5 and Agenda 2063.
The UNECA emphasized the importance of gender-responsive policy and legislation to create an enabling environment to implement AfCFTA successfully, and to materialize the Agenda 2063 aspirations.
The ARFSD is one of the three mechanisms mandated by the UN General Assembly to follow up, review and catalyse actions to achieve the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by UN member states back in 2015. This year’s edition of the ARFSD is organised by the ECA and the government of Rwanda in collaboration with the African Union (AU) Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other entities of the United Nations System.