Women in Africa are under-appreciated

Posted on August 10, 2014 04:25 pm

If African countries are to accelerate economic growth and become a developed continent, women must be allowed to play a larger role not just in the political and economic sector but in all spheres of national life. The recent statistics about HIV AIDS in Africa showed that more than half of those infected with the disease are women but not because they are morally rotten, its because they suffer from sexual violence and rape like no other women anywhere in the world except India, the world’s leader in HIV AIDS infections. Gender equality must be placed high on the priority list of the government agenda so that it becomes a national preoccupation. Women make up 60 percent of the African population. They also own or manage more than 50 percent of micro and small businesses in the continent, contributing approximately $170 billion to gross domestic product in sub saharan Africa. Yet this sizeable contribution goes unappreciated as many of the businesses run by women are small.

Furthermore, women are not prominent in the higher echelons of the corporate world, making up less than 20 percent of board directors across sub saharan Africa countries. Women also face glass ceilings in terms of earning equal pay with their male counterparts and having access to education and credit with chauvinists in countries Kenya, Nigeria and Botswana worst affected. Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania on the other hand are doing a stellar job in empowering women. This disadvantages them and also hampers economic growth, as half the population is handicapped. In rural areas, girls are often denied access to even basic education let alone given access to pursue university degrees with such common cases being reported in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Namibia. For this to happen, mindsets and cultural taboos must change. Girls must be seen as being equal to boys and be allowed to fulfil their maximum potential. The question in Contador Harrison’s mind is, will African countries recognise their huge potential? Or will they allow it to go untapped and under-appreciated? I hope that calls for women to be given a bigger role in African societies will not fall on deaf years as the case with prevention and control of spread of Ebola which has claimed close to 1,000 lives in West Africa or HIV AIDS that claimed more than 1,000,000 African lives in 2013 alone.

Contador Harrison