AfDB chief salutes African women

African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka has said the International Women’s Day is a day of celebration and a day of challenge, often rolled into one.
Celebrants at the International Women’s Day in the past event at Amahoro Stadium, Kigali. The New Times/ File.
Celebrants at the International Women’s Day in the past event at Amahoro Stadium, Kigali. The New Times/ File.

African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka has said the International Women’s Day is a day of celebration and a day of challenge, often rolled into one.

“In realising how far we have come towards ensuring genuine equality of opportunity for women as for men, it becomes clear how far we still have to go,” the AfDB chief said in his message.

He said that for every iconic female leader–Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for instance–there are “a thousand unheard female voices in Africa.”

“In individual African countries, and across the continent at large, we see a joust between success and shortcoming,” he said. “Africa may lead the world in the proportion of women who sit in some if its parliaments, but it lags badly behind the rest of the world in many other spheres of life.”

Strong but flawed economy

Kaberuka stressed that Africa’s current and unprecedented economic growth is strong, but it is flawed if it is not shared, and if it is not environmentally sustainable.

Real growth has to be for women as much as for men, for younger people as for older, for rural communities as much as urban. 

“And we know that economic growth alone does not suffice to create gender equality: it requires political and practical will to drive the gender agenda forward.”

The key to that task is law: first establishing the law, and then implementing it, he said, adding that “on the surface at least,” that may be happening as most African countries ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women various International Labour Organisation conventions on women’s working rights, and the Maputo Protocol of 2005 which was Africa’s own stated vision of equality for its women. 

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