REFELA: analytical report on the economic empowerment of women in Africa. A reference document for the Campaign of African Cities for the economic empowerment of women.

REFELA-UCLG Africa has published an analytical report on the economic empowerment of women in Africa, see the link here
This report has been produced for the launch, implementation and monitoring of the campaign for, “African Cities for the economic empowerment of women,” initiated by the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA ), which makes up the permanent commission for gender equality of the Pan-African organization United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).
The 1st edition of the report documents and provides a reference for the campaign with the aim of enabling African regional and local governments and other actors interested in the economic empowerment of African women, to have an overview of this issue. It covers the legal framework, progress made on the African continent and the constraints for women in this sector of the economy, including those that are limited in their economic potential within their cities, and the challenges, which must be addressed urgently in line with commitments made both at the African level (Vision 2063) and internationally (including the SDD goals, especially SDG5: Achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030).

Following the two other campaigns launched by the REFELA-UCLG Africa Network aimed at African cities, “African Cities without street children,” and “African Cities with zero tolerance for violence against women,” this campaign aims at territorializing one of the central problems of the gender issue, namely gender equality in the economic field. REFELA-UCLG Africa is convinced that local and regional authorities can and must play a leading role in helping to empower women and strengthen their leadership and power in this sector of the local economy.

To have a broad perspective on the issue of economic empowerment for African women, a working methodology was adopted. The results and materials collected, analysed and recorded in this report focus on (i) the in-depth documentary study, which made it possible to compile and analyze data from various specialist and reference sources from Africa (AU, ADB) including governmental sources and international sources, (United Nations ECA, UN-Women, ILO, UNDP, World Bank) et al (ii) the profiling of 10 countries in the 5 sub-regions of Africa to assess their performance in terms of women’s access to economic opportunities (iii) the analysis of data and results of a preliminary participatory survey conducted by the REFELA Secretariat team, entitled, ”Women entrepreneurs under constraints in African cities,” as well as (iv) the presentation of the framing elements of the campaign, designed to inform and guide the choice of African cities with the voluntary membership of REFELA-UCLG Africa.

        I.     The problem of economic inequality in Africa

Far from being an exhaustive document, the report examines several issues relating to women’s economic equality and the promotion of women’s economic rights in Africa. The issue of women’s economic empowerment in Africa is addressed in 2 main regards:

  • African and international studies and reports show that despite the fact that women represent about 66% of the labour force in Africa, they occupy only 20% of salaried jobs. From these figures, it can be deduced that a majority of active women still work in the informal sector and are therefore deprived of stable wages and some advantages such as social protection, paid maternity leave, retirement, etc. This high concentration of women in the informal economy and the persistence of gender-based inequalities in the formal economy generate many constraints on women. These constraints are expressed at the level of their cities, living and working areas and are obstacles to the development of their leadership and economic potential.
  • In addition, there is the limited impact of local and regional authorities in African countries on public policies for the promotion of gender in the economic field. The result is that policies are deprived of a local approach that is more subtle, addresses needs adequately and above all, is closer to the reality of the local population concerned, because of the limits of the territorialization of gender-sensitive economic policies and the insufficient involvement of regional and local governments.
  • As illustrated in the report, the various constraints and challenges to be taken up to promote the economic empowerment of women on the continent justifies the relevance and interest of the campaign initiated by REFELA-UCLG Africa and addressed to African cities, that they mobilize and act in favour of a local economy that is more inclusive of women and is gender-sensitive.

          II.    African Context: advances and challenges in women’s economic empowerment

    The report lays out the progress achieved on the continent in promoting women’s equality and economic empowerment through the analysis of legal instruments, policy agendas and projects (at the continental, sub-regional or national level) and existing legislative and institutional mechanisms. The relevance of the legal framework, instruments, protocols and texts put in place by the AU and adopted by the States (Constitutive Act of the AU of 2000, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981 and its additional protocol on women’s rights of 2003, and others) and which are acted upon by those of Africa’s sub-regional organizations (SADC, ECOWAS, and others) and also at the national level (where non-discrimination and gender equality are translated into principles and provisions on which the majority of African constitutions are based).

    Such a context and arsenal demonstrates the political resolve of African States to promote the economic empowerment of women. If African States are as much in line with the AU Vision 2063 and its aspirations for, “The Africa we want,” and in the international dynamic of, “Leave no one behind,” and if progress has been recorded, as analyzed in this report, it is fair to say that this continent remains to this day dependent on an effective improvement of women’s access to their civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights.

    III. REFELA Campaign: A call to action by African cities

    The materials compiled and analyzed in the report including the country profiling, the constraints highlighted and the results of the preliminary survey, where REFELA consulted and listened to women entrepreneurs, provide a global overview of the lack of women’s empowerment in this sector of the economy in Africa and supports the initiative taken by REFELA-UCLG Africa to launch, implement and monitor the campaign for, “African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment.” The main objectives are to:

  • Engage as many African cities and local authorities as possible to strengthen their commitment to promote women’s economic empowerment by 2030;
  • Collaborate and support African cities and local authorities to take ownership of the issue of women’s economic empowerment and to, “Rethink their economic environment in order to make it conducive to equal access for women, as well as men, for economic opportunities, for the elimination of gender-based discriminatory practices, and also for the implementation of affirmative action measures enabling women to be fully involved in the economic life of their cities and to benefit from its positive spin-offs.”
  • Dr Malika Ghefrane Giorgi
    Special Advisor REFELA