The Commissioner launched the network during the 2019 PIDA Week that is currently underway in Cairo, Egypt under the theme Positioning Africa to deliver on Agenda 2063 and economic integration through multi-sectoral approaches to infrastructure development.
During the lauching Abou-Zeid said, integrating policy and planning that prioritizes women and hardwires gender is not a side agenda”.
Adding that “The second phase of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), will provide a valuable opportunity to proactively integrate women’s participation at the country, RECs and partnerships level”. She urged all stakeholders to provide infrastructure services in a professional and gender-sensitive manner, which recognizes each resident including women as a valuable client.
“The goal of the ANWIn is therefore to provide a high level strategic engagement platform that will bring all stakeholders together for ensuring a gender responsive planning and implementation of infrastructure,” the Commissioner underscored.
“Under the PIDA PAP 2 umbrella, the AUC and its partners will enhance gender responsiveness in the planning, design and implementation of infrastructure projects on the continent, through provision of appropriate gender sensitive project selection criteria and tools to undertake this activity,”She noted
According to the Commissioner in most African countries, only about a third of women participate in economic activities, however research shows that when women are actively involved, the improvement is measureable: In Africa, women’s economic participation encourages increased GDP, better governance within political structures and improved performance as a result of leadership within organisations.
On her part, Eng Maha Mostafa Representative Ministry of Electricity and Reneawable Energy shared Egypt’s experience in women empowerment.
“Egypt has committed to increasing women’s participation in all sectors for an inclusive economic growth process. There are 10 female Ministers in key positions who are leaders and policy makers. Egypt is also addressing inclusive poverty reduction by promoting access to housing and ensuring that everyone has access to economic opportunities in all sectors,” Mosafa stated.
The opening session was followed by an-hour long panel discussion where panelists were invited to elaborate about the state of infrastructure gender imbalance in Africa and asked to help shape the future direction of the Network.
According to the panelists, the role of women and the gender dimensions in infrastructure remains marginal, despite the fact that Africa has made significant progress towards gender equality and protection of women’s rights at the policy level.
They called upon partners to establish a special fund at the AUC, which is dedicated to support gender responsive activities and will ensure that there is high level impact in support of empowering women in Africa
On her part, Minister &Advisor to the President Dr Chantal Colle,Republic of Guinea said, “we are convinced, the evidence is there and the connection between women and economic growth is extraordinarily powerful.”
She used the discussions to encourage all delegates attending the PIDA week to commit to action and deliver results for the improvement and enhancement of the lives of 600 million ordinary African women.
She also emphasized the need to integrate the Network into existing PIDA initiatives and instruments.
“But, to achieve that, international partners must harmonize and align programmes and coordinate under the PIDA framework,”She said.
She also said that women are catalysts for meaningful change on the African continent and that women and women leaders will be critical in leading our continent into a new future is very evident. As such, creating opportunities that promote African women’s economic participation is a prerequisite if Africa is to experience its predicted growth within the next few decades.
“The role of women in Africa’s economic development remains a central issue with gender inequality thwarting growth in many countries. The women of Africa currently represent an untapped economic force that is necessary for the continent’s socio-economic development as well the optimisation of its potential,” Dr Colle said
The fourth panellist, Ms Karia Gonzalez, Practise Manager, World Bank reiterated that the second phase of PIDA also provides a strong platform for public private partnership and promoting sustainability through an inclusive approach in all PIDA and specifically corridor approach.
She noted that women in Africa need to become more representative in most spheres, including in infrastructure sectors, and women need to become more involved in the decision-making and planning of infrastructure projects and programmes.
In addition, the burden of infrastructure deficit is carried mostly by women, who walk kilometres per day and spend hours collecting water as well as wood for cooking and heating. Thus the design of infrastructure programmes needs to prioritise such gender-specific issues to ensure that women are able to carry out their everyday chores more efficiently, allowing more time for family care, educational opportunities, productive work and participation in community life.
to her although significant progress on the integration of gender in the infrastructure domain has taken place in the last decade, much more is needed to establish women’s inclusivity in African infrastructure.
Comments from the floor also covered the positive opportunities that come when women are given wider access and equal opportunity in the development of infrastructure.
The discussions were underpinned by key coalesce around the transformational role of women in infrastructure development to unlock long term game-changing impact in the continent.
The discussions were moderated by Sunita Pitamber ANWIn Coordinator.