Featured - Regional - Top Stories - March 17, 2021

Gender mainstreaming an essential in AfCFTA

In Africa, women perform a wide range of economic activities and that determines how they will impact and will be impacted by the single market created under the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental dimensions for sustainable development.

In an interview with BusinessMail, Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association Mmantlha Sankoloba said Africa has been perceived to be a very divided continent, such being evident in its protectionist policies but the AfCFTA carries hope for all member states and for it to be a success; it calls for inclusive participation, premised on demographics and gender equality.

“In Botswana most entities with an international presence are widely dominated by men, while the informal sector business space is dominated by women. It is only in the recent decade, that we are beginning to note few women entering the formal business landscape on a sizeable scale, however more numbers are needed at national level especially if we want to adhere to the notion of gender inclusiveness. The business landscape for many years has been viewed as a man’s world, a viewpoint that is non-applicable in today’s progressive world,” Sankoloba said.

Sankoloba asserted that there are talks leading in the right path, and the task requires collective efforts by both the public and private sector.

“From our side as an Association representing Botswana’s private sector, we are involved in numerous initiatives that are intended to empower women, we have partnerships with the British Council, USAID Trade-Hub, and SADC Women in Business etc. It is through these partnerships that we work to improve competitiveness of women manufacturers, run key programs that will make their business formal and worthy of seeking financial assistance from lending institutions and also be able to produce quality products that adhere to stipulated local and international standards,” Sankoloba said.

The Association is running a body called S.H.E Networks, a platform designated from women empowerment and changing the narratives around common ideologies such as women not supporting each other.

“We challenged this just recently through organizing an event that brought together some of the most successful and phenomenal women across the world, these women shared insights with others regarding their journey and they also shared business/leadership opportunities with them, something very noteworthy,” she said.

The network’s vision is to sharpen women to be great leaders and have some names being mentioned as key participants of key trade agreements such as the AfCFTA.

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