African Development Bank Annual Meetings 2024 – AfDB, UN Women strengthen cooperation to promote women’s economic empowerment

A day ahead of the African Development Bank Group’s annual meetings, the institution joined forces with UN Women to host a side event showcasing both organizations’ achievements in promoting women’s economic empowerment across Africa.

The side event was held on Sunday 26 May under the theme of the future of finance and women’s economic empowerment. It drew leaders and representatives from the public and private sectors, civil society organizations and financial institutions.

The session included welcome remarks by Anne Wang’ombe, Principal Secretary, State Department of Gender and Affirmative Action, in the Kenyan Ministry of Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage, a keynote address by Harrieth Chiggai, Women’s Rights Adviser to the President of Kenya, and remarks by Nnenna Nwabufo, African Development Bank’s Director General for East Africa.

This event marks a significant milestone in the partnership between the Bank and UN Women as they join forces to address the economic disparities faced by women on the continent. UN Women announced that the bank would become part of the UN Women-led HeForShe Alliance, a group of ambitious leaders from across government, business, non-profit and academia standing in solidarity with women to create a bold, visible and united force for gender equality. UN Women also announced that the Chairman of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, is to be named UN Women HeForShe Champion later this year. The honor recognizes his leadership in advocating for gender equality in Africa.

“The Bank is committed to implementing policies that promote gender equality, eliminate gender-based violence and discrimination across Africa. We must listen and amplify women’s voices, while ensuring that Africa’s women have equal opportunities. Empowering African women is a moral imperative — as well as smart economics,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, African Development Bank Group in her remarks.

Through presentations by its partners, the Bank showcased the work done in line with its Ten-Year Strategy 2024-2033 and its Gender Strategy 2021-2025, which places women’s empowerment at the heart of its development agenda. They noted that the Bank approved $1.7 billion in investments for women entrepreneurs in 43 countries through the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA initiative, and that more than 18,000 women-owned and managed businesses have received financing through AFAWA-supported programs .

During the side event, UN Women launched its Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy, which aims to accelerate gender equality and promote inclusive economic growth. The multi-layered presentation explained how the strategy empowers women through targeted initiatives that improve women’s access to resources, opportunities and leadership roles in the economy. The strategy prioritizes three key areas critical to achieving gender equality, underpinned by promoting gender-responsive macroeconomic policies, tackling discriminatory social norms and increasing funding for equality.

“Women’s economic empowerment is not just a matter of social justice; it is an economic imperative. By unlocking women’s potential, we can drive sustainable development and foster resilient economies. The strategy articulates UN Women’s vision and priorities as an organization and ways of working to support women to thrive and economies to flourish,” said Sarah Hendriks, UN Women’s Director of Policy, Program and Intergovernmental Division.

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