Saturday, February 26, 2011

Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa Through Science, Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Even with all of the rain pouring down outside, attempting to dampen the spirits of those meeting to discuss the empowerment of women in Africa, spirits were high and passion was strong inside the 10th floor room where the discussion took place. I was immediately in awe by the attendance of the crowd as each NGO representative stood up and said what country they were from - Mozambique, Germany, Spain, Nigeria, USA, Jordan, Iraq, Ghana, Vietnam, Sweden, Botswana, Tanzania, Fiji, Ireland, Namibia, Rwanda, Egypt, Mali, and Sudan - and there were only 5o people in the room! What an inspiring moment. People from all over the world were gathered in one room to focus on the need to empower women throughout the continent of Africa, all thanks to the CSW conference.
Many of the messages conveyed during the two hour presentation stuck with me well beyond the end of the session. The notion that we can not change the world until we change ourselves and that each person can make a difference and can and should come together as global partners to fight the battles that rage all over the world.

Two definitions were provided, both of which are important to share:
Power is potency - the capacity to act and implement
Economic empowerment is the achievement of financial independence to give women the power of choice and voice

Triad of Women Empowerment:
1. Personality - the will, drive, desire to learn and succeed
2. Policy & Procedure - the implementation of laws that support women
3. Product - the skill or actual good has to have high value
Partners of Development:
1. Government
2. Civil Society
3. Private Sector
Three Pillars of Women's Entrepreneurship:
1. Creating an enabling environment
2. Capacity-building
3. Access to financial resources

The notion that entrepreneurship is a driver for economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation, as well as a vehicle for personal development and a force that can help resolve social issues.

Some questions and opinions that were raised, and thus that I pose for open discussion from your posts are as follows:
1. Can women control political outcome? They are 50% of the population, so shouldn't they be able to have 50% influence?
2. Should micro-credit programs declare that a certain % of funding goes to women?
3. How can women go about finding/creating a mechanism to make leaders accountable?
4. How can each of us improve the status of women in our own communities?
5. How can each of us improve the status of women around the world?

I'll sign off with the final comment from a woman in attendance who said that each of us has the responsibility to take ownership of our future, and thus the future of our sex.

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