Dr Adesina made the remarks on Monday when speaking at the opening of the Global Gender Summit in Rwanda. The summit has for the first time been held in Africa.
“We must focus on how to fast track economic, social and political opportunities for women, and girls. A smarter world must invest in women and girls. Women are the best investments any society can make. When they earn, they spend 90 percent of their income on their households, including their husbands,” she noted adding that smart banks will lend to women because they pay back their loans by an overwhelming 90 percent.
She added that despite women being the best loan payers, there is a US $ 1.5 trillion financing gap for women-led small and medium sized enterprises.
In Africa, 70 percent of women are excluded financially. The continent has a US $ 42 billion financing gap between men and women. And women, who are the majority of farmers in Africa, face financing gap of close to US $ 16 billion.
Dr Adesina said AfDB has launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), to mobilise US $ 3 billion of new lending by banks and financial institutions for women in Africa.
“The African Development Bank believes in women. Women are bankable,” he said noting that smart nations invest in women.
Studies show that equal and full participation of women can add an additional US $ 28 trillion to global wealth by 2025, an increase of 26 percent in global annual GDP.
She said: “As multilateral development banks, we owe it to the world to not only shine the light on the challenges facing women; we must develop and launch transformative programmes to tackle them, decisively”.
She insisted on countries to drive policy dialogue to tackle legal, regulatory and institutional environments that constrain opportunities for women and ensure gender equality in projects.
“We must fight against gender-based violence and expand voice for women to participate more actively in communities, as leaders, in project design, implementation and monitoring,” said the bank President.
She called upon efforts to end all forms of child marriage and gender based violence.
“Men should marry their age mates. We cannot sacrifice the future of our girls: let our girls be, stay in school, thrive and excel. They are the best assets”, said Dr Adesina.
The bank President noted that for way too long, women have suffered from the subtraction side, subtracted from education, subtracted from access to legal rights to land and property, subtracted from access to finance, subtracted from leadership positions in board rooms, subtracted from political processes.
She said: “Women don’t make wars; the egos of men lead to wars. But women and their children bear the brunt of wars and conflicts. A world led by women will not have wars. Life bearers will not become life takers.
Dr Adesina gave an example of Rwanda where 50 percent of its ministerial positions are filled by women. She said Ethiopia has 61 percent of its parliamentarians being women — the highest in the world. In Ethiopia, four of the seven Supreme Court justices are women.