Graça Machel Trust announces new initiative to create a powerful movement of African women focused on advancing Africa’s future

Women Advancing Africa initiative launched at an intimate gathering of African women leaders hosted by Mrs. Graça Machel

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Graça Machel Trust (GMT) announced today that it will launch a pan-African initiative to ‘Multiply the Faces and Amplify the Voices’ of African women as a force for economic and social transformation. The Trust will convene the first-ever Women Advancing Africa (WAA) Forum in 2017 to highlight the critical role that women play in shaping Africa’s development.

Over the past decade, Africa has experienced unprecedented economic growth but women and children have shared least in its prosperity. Today, African women constitute 70 percent of the informal economy, while one third of Africa’s formal small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women but only 47 percent of these are financially served. African women are a powerful untapped force and creating more opportunities for women to participate in the economy will improve their earning potential, assist families to move out of poverty and drive inclusive and sustainable growth.

Women Advancing Africa plans to build an intergenerational movement of women whose experience and wisdom will lead to collective action to address these economic imbalances. To identify priorities and help shape the agenda for the inaugural Women Advancing Africa Forum, the Trust convened a roundtable meeting of African women leaders across sectors in Magaliesburg, South Africa from August 11-13. The intimate gathering was hosted by Mrs. Machel, who shared her vision for Women Advancing Africa and invited participants to share their stories and develop targeted goals for the initiative moving forward.

“Africa’s continued journey towards full economic and social prosperity will only be achieved when women take the lead in setting the continent’s development agenda and have equal opportunities to participate at all levels in society,” said Mrs. Machel. “Now is the time to shape a collective agenda for the economic advancement of African women.”

At the meeting, more than 40 African women leaders worked together to identify priorities and outline key focus areas for the 2017 Forum. Under the overarching theme of driving social and economic transformation, WAA will focus on three core pillars in 2017: promoting financial inclusion, increasing market access and driving social change.

“It is rare to experience a completely safe space in which we can tell our truth, own our stories and challenge each other,” reflected Renée Ngamau, participant and member of the Graça Machel Trust Women in Media Network. “The WAA roundtable created that space and challenged me to powerfully take on next steps in my journey; not just for myself, but for other women younger, or less privileged than I am.”

The Trust has selected APCO Worldwide, the largest women-owned communications firm in the world, to be the convening partner for the Women Advancing Africa initiative. Working closely with the Graça Machel Trust, APCO will leverage its global network and communications expertise to bring the initiative to life at the inaugural meeting. The Forum will take place next year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and will be attended by at least 250 of Africa’s most influential women leaders, the continent’s rising stars and committed global champions.

Initial support for the WAA initiative has also been provided by founding sponsor, The Intel Foundation. Through the “She Will Connect Program” Intel will also establish a dedicated online platform to connect a pan-African community of women leaders. Additional support has been provided by The UPS Foundation, Discovery, The United Nations Foundation, The Skoll Foundation and The Bridgeway Foundation. These partners share the Trust’s belief that advancing women economically is crucial to the health and prosperity of African families, communities and nations.

A detailed communique outlining the next steps and actions to be taken by the Trust is forthcoming.

For more information about the Women Advancing Africa Initiative and the Graça Machel Trust, please visit http://gracamacheltrust.org/new/; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheGracaMachelTrust

Twitter: @G_MachelTrust or email waa@gracamacheltrust.org

ABOUT:
The Graça Machel Trust is an organisation that works across the continent to drive positive change across women’s and children’s rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed. By using our convening power the Trust seeks to: amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; promote women’s contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa.

ABOUT:

About APCO Worldwide

Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an independent global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm with offices in more than 30 major cities throughout the world. We challenge conventional thinking and inspire movements to help our clients succeed in an ever-changing world. Stakeholders are at the core of all we do. We turn the insights that come from our deep stakeholder relationships into forward-looking, creative solutions that always push the boundaries. APCO clients include large multinational companies, trade associations, governments, NGOs and educational institutions. The firm is a majority women-owned business. For more information, please visit www.apcoworldwide.com.

Addendum

Support for the Women Advancing Africa (WAA) Initiative has been provided by the following partners.

APCO Worldwide

The Trust has selected APCO Worldwide, the largest women-owned communications firm in the world, to be the convening partner for the Women Advancing Africa initiative. Working closely with the Graça Machel Trust, APCO will leverage its global network and communications expertise to bring the initiative to life at the inaugural Women Advancing Africa Forum in 2017.

Intel Foundation

Initial support for this initiative was also provided by founding sponsor, The Intel Foundation. Through the “She Will Connect program,” Intel has committed to make the internet more accessible, convenient, secure and engaging for 5 million women by 2020. In partnership with the Graça Machel Trust, The Intel Foundation has pledged to support the inaugural Women Advancing Africa Forum and help connect a pan-African community of women leaders through the development of an online platform.

UPS Foundation

Additional support for the Women Advancing Africa launch was also provided by The UPS Foundation. Since its founding in 1951, The UPS Foundation has helped build stronger, more resilient communities around the world. UPS believes that advancing women and girls is central to that mission and is committed to creating opportunities that help women reach their full potential and strengthen their communities. The UPS Foundation has agreed to partner with the Graça Machel Trust, extending its global expertise and support to the Women Advancing Africa initiative in 2017.

Discovery

Initial support for the Women Advancing Africa initiative was also provided by Discovery, South Africa’s largest medical scheme with 2.69 million members. Discovery’s core mission is to promote healthy, thriving societies through investments in community health and entrepreneurship. In partnership with the Graça Machel Trust, Discovery helped convene women leaders and rising stars from across Africa for the first Women Advancing Africa meeting.

The United Nations Foundation, The Skoll Foundation & The Bridgeway Foundation

Other contributing sponsors for the Women Advancing Africa meeting include The Skoll Foundation, The Bridgeway Foundation and The United Nations Foundation.

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