50 Million African Women Speak

A two-day stakeholder engagement meeting was held at the Savoy Hotel last week from Wednesday 4th October to Friday 5th October to promote a pioneering project called 'The 50 Million African Women Speak' (50MAWS). The three-year project is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in conjunction with the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS). The primary objective of 50MAWS is to create a digital platform that will be accessible to women within the thirty-eight member states comprising COMESA, EAC and ECOWAS that will facilitate the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs by providing access to vital financial and non-financial information necessary for growing and developing businesses.

Representatives of the project presented the rationale behind the proposed platform which aims to address the challenges affecting African women in the realms of business and entrepreneurship. The platform is set to be up and running by January 2019 and Seychelles' participation will be managed by the newly-established 'country team', headed by the Ministry of Family Affairs. The team also includes representatives from other spheres of the public and private sectors; namely the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Youth, Trade and Entrepreneurship and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Principal Secretary of Family Affairs, Mrs. Marie-Josee Bonne, underlined the importance of working towards the empowerment of women: Although Seychelles has made progress by implementing policies that create an environment of equal opportunity, there is still room to ensure that the entrepreneurial landscape in our country is one that enables women to be more independent and enterprising.

The 50MAWS project is in line with provisions for women empowerment in the COMESA Treaty and Gender Policy; African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all women and girls. It is expected that this platform will impact millions of African women and create jobs for youth from the increased capital flow.

The COMESA delegation thanked Seychelles for duly supplying the data and reports which will contribute to the content of the digital platform and hope that Seychelles will continue to show the same level of commitment in the future.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles

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