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Women empowerment takes center stage as ACBF meets President Sirleaf

Johannesburg, South Africa
15 Jun, 2015

Issues of women empowerment in Africa’s agriculture were the focus of a meeting between the Executive Secretary of The Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Saturday 13 June 2015, on the side-lines of the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg,  South Africa.

Since the launch of the Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) Initiative in 2012 – a project which seeks to empower African women to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the continent’s agriculture sector, ACBF has conducted mapping and assessment studies on EWA in six out of eight pilot countries - Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

During the meeting, Prof. Nnadozie highlighted that Liberia and Senegal remained the two countries where such research was yet to take place and that plans were underway to initiate the study on empowering women in the two countries.  A program document will then be finalized for all pilot countries.

President Sirleaf stated that the main priority for the coming months should include preparing validation workshops for studies and program  document, designing EWA’s governance structure which includes a Secretariat and developing a criteria and shortlist of host countries for consideration.

According to President Sirleaf, a key requirement for targeted host countries is their capability to support the EWA Secretariat.

The meeting agreed that financing for EWA would be designed to capitalise on the potential of rural financing, and setting up banks in rural areas within the framework of credit unions in order to build women’s current practice of pulling funds. Plans also include the rolling out of microfinance institutions in order to financially empower women and develop a portfolio of financial products, especially in the areas of leasing and franchise financing. Also, mobilizing private equity through already existing financial resources on the continent will be the preferred alternative to donor financing for EWA.

During the meeting, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie expressed interest in assisting EWA through designing its the governance structures, facilitating validation workshops and providing initial funding to kick-start the Initiative’s Secretariat.

Prof. Nnadozie also expressed ACBF’s interest in supporting Liberia following the end the Ebola crisis starting with a country capacity needs assessment and profiling.     In response, President Sirleaf welcomed the proposed support from ACBF and also requested the Foundation to support  the establishment of a think tank that can provide evidence- and research –based information required for sound policy making and policy implementation in Liberia.

EWA was launched at the 19th AU Summit in 2012 to empower women, who make up the majority of the population in Africa, through strategic programs of capacity building in key areas, to support women farmers and maximize their critical roles in the sector by promoting their fair access to key resources such as land, finance and technology, thus improving their livelihoods and their contribution to Africa’s sustainable development.

The was initiated by Gender is My Agenda (GIMACand Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), under the coordination of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). EWA has the support of several African Heads of states, multilateral and bilateral as well as major private sector partners,

ACBF and its partners believe that if operatives in the agriculture sector, mostly women, are not fully empowered for higher productivity through technologically-driven production processes, access to land and greater access to more remunerative markets, Africa’s prospects in the emerging global economy would remain uncertain, if not grossly undermined.

Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana