Addis Ababa – – The African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Women in Business, and the SADC Business Council webinar on women’s participation in the continental free trade in Africa Area (AfCFTA) closed on 12 November with the assurance of bridging the gender gap on the continent.
With the theme: “Involvement by women and the private sector in the inclusive implementation of AfCFTA: views of SADC”, the webinar presented panel discussions with stakeholders in the public and private sectors to understand how the implementation of the AfCFTA gender equality and economic empowerment of women from a region. perspective.
In her opening speech, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technology, Pinky Kekana, emphasized the importance of the digital economy in closing the gender divide in an AfCFTA environment.
Referring to an example of how a smartphone and cost-effective data can change the world of trade for women in rural areas, she said: “Connections can erase border barriers so women can trade, buy and bank wherever they go. is the world. “
“Connections can level all playing fields, and change the face of the trade forever,” she said.
According to the ATPC’s expert on gender and trade, Nadirat Bayat, AfCFTA can promote gender equality and increase economic opportunities for women’s businesses.
“There are a number of provisions in the AfCFTA agreement – although not gender-specific – that do apply to women in their roles as workers, entrepreneurs (owners of informal and formal enterprises) and small-scale and informal cross-border traders. “It is not directly aimed at women, these provisions can be used to empower and expand new trade and economic opportunities that AfCFTA offers for women,” she said. Bayat said.
The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 after 22 countries ratified the treaty – the minimum number required by the treaty. The number has since grown to 30 countries. Trading would start earlier on July 1 this year, but was postponed by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its African Trade Policy Center, the ECA works with the African Union Commission (AUC), Regional Economic Communities and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development. The ECA also works closely with the International Trade Center (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a selection of independent experts with financial support from the European Union (EU) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC). ) to support the implementation of the Treaty.