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In a groundbreaking move aimed at empowering women in trade across Africa, a comprehensive set of strategies has been unveiled by Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference to enhance Women in trade participation and economic empowerment under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). These initiatives, outlined in a protocol focusing on women and youth, seek to bridge existing gaps, foster inclusion, and unlock the full potential of female entrepreneurs in the continent’s evolving trade landscape.
Mr. Gerald Ekow Woode, the Director of Research, Policy, and Advocacy at the Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference, emphasized the importance of these strategies, as articulated within the research paper “Repositioning Women in Trade under the AfCFTA.” He highlighted that these measures encompass various crucial facets for women’s economic empowerment.
“These measures are a long-awaited step towards creating an environment where women can thrive in trade. By providing them with a seat at the table and addressing systematic barriers, we are laying the groundwork for inclusive economic growth across Africa,” commented Mr. Woode.
The strategies outlined in the protocol include:
i. Promote Active Engagement and Representation: Implement legislative and administrative measures, such as quotas and special temporary actions, to ensure the active participation and equitable representation of women in negotiation and decision-making processes at national, regional, and international levels.
ii. Align with International Standards: Bring the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade in line with regional and international standards for gender equality and economic empowerment. This includes fostering women’s access to education, capacity-building, and skill development to enhance their productive capabilities.
iii. Bridge the Digital Divide: Facilitate women’s access to digital skills and implement measures to reduce the gender-based digital divide, enabling women to leverage digital platforms for trade and entrepreneurship.
iv. Create Supportive Policy Environments: Cultivate supportive policy environments that promote women’s involvement in cross-border trade, ensuring they have the necessary support to meet standards and requirements for export and import activities.
v. Establish Dedicated Credit Lines: Create dedicated credit lines within regional development banks specifically for the AfCFTA, offering favorable conditions for women engaged in cross-border trade and small-scale business ventures.
vi. Implement Trade Facilitation Initiatives: Introduce trade facilitation measures such as Single Window systems and one-stop border posts to streamline cross-border trade processes. Establish Trade Information Desks to assist small-scale cross-border traders, particularly women, in managing paperwork and navigating trade regulations.
These strategies represent a significant step forward in promoting gender equality and economic empowerment within the AfCFTA framework, aiming to create a more inclusive and equitable trading environment across the continent, he said.
BY: JESSICA OKAI and YUSUFF MUFIDAT