The EIP will boost sustainable investments and create decent jobs in Africa and the European Neighbourhood. How can women best utilise the new opportunities which will be generated by the EIP for economic empowerment and gender equality? How can they access the increased opportunities in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises financing, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy and connectivity, sustainable cities and digitalisation? You will hear how an ongoing EU blended finance project empowers women; detailed discussions of the specific conditions within several Neighbourhood and African countries and importantly how the EIP can expand and complement traditional assistance in empowering women.
Photographer's Credit Eleni Papoutsi / DG NEAR
- The EU’s External Investment Plan (EIP) and other programmes should cover not just economic empowerment through loans, but also through other gender-equality measures.
- Women in Africa have a huge untapped potential.
- Banks and other businesses need to overcome their in-built prejudice against women.
- Programmes aiming to close the gender gap need comprehensive approaches covering education, health, access to finance and social protection.
Panellists examined how the EU’s new development tool, the External Investment Plan (EIP), could help boost sustainable investment and create decent jobs for women in Africa and the European Neighbourhood.
Christian Danielsson, Director General of the European Commission’s DG NEAR (Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations), admitted that the situation was not very positive for women in many of the countries he dealt with, as the wage differentials are substantial and there are not the same opportunities.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva pointed out that her institution invested between EUR 60-70 billion in investment projects, and one of the key lessons was that action has to be evidence based. She estimated that there was around US$ 160 trillion left on the table in the world economy as women were unused, underused or underpaid.
Elizabeth Egharevba, Director in Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said that when governments link up with programmes such as the EIP, it can empower women at various levels. She felt it was time women were seen as employers and as powers running nations.
Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), spoke of particular programmes to promote female entrepreneurship. He urged Europe to appreciate that there is a lot of dynamism in Africa.
Dorcas Asige Apoore, a young leader from Ghana, explained how a loan of US$ 1,000 helped her hire hundreds of women to build her basket weaving
business, which now exports to the UK, the US and Australia. She plans to reach out to 500,000 women over the next decade with the help of the EIP.
Anja Langenbucher, Europe Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it was not surprising that most of money flowing into Africa goes to cash-generating areas, but what the continent really needs is funding for essential areas such as health, education and sanitation.
Peter Sands, Executive Director for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the best way to help women fulfil their potential is to protect them, in particular from disease. He noted that in the worst affected countries, women are five to eight times more likely to be infected by AIDS – and it is all down to gender inequalities.
Betsy Nelson, Vice-President Risk and Compliance and Chief Risk Officer at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said that women were a vast untapped resource for banks, especially since they are very loyal and they repay.
Beatriz Perez, Senior Vice-President and Chief Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer at the Coca-Cola Company, explained the drink giant’s support programmes helping women in Africa and said women want training tools and not handouts so they can thrive.
Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said there was a clear business case for programmes empowering women, which he described as both right and smart.
There are many ways that institutions, agencies and businesses can help unleash female potential in Africa, and it all helps.