L-R; Zandile Ngubeni, head of the inter generation mentorship programme and patron , Robert Nicker MD CNBC Africa and patron , Pinky Kekana , chairperson of PAWBA , Elizabeth Moreno VP and MD HP Africa (patron) , Dorothy Botsi-Thulare (ceo Botho UBuntu ) patron , Dr Khumo Moetse (Partner African Medi Fund) patron and Terryane Chebet (business woman and patron)

TUE, FEB 04 2020 – the G&B Journal – South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa heads to Addis Ababa this week, to represent his country in assuming the African Union Chairship, at the AU Headquarters in Ethiopia.

PAWBA chairperson, Honarable deputy minister of telecommunications Pinky Kekana pinning the Patrons

In his weekly newsletter this morning, to “Dear fellow South African”, he is clear in his message about his vision for the chairship having an economic agenda for the women of the continent, when he says “We plan to use this great responsibility, among other things, to promote the economic empowerment of the women of Africa.”

The in-coming AU Chair then further highlights that “there has never been a better time to do so. With the African Continental Free Trade Area coming into operation this year, we have an opportunity to ensure that women and women-owned businesses are able to meaningfully benefit from what will be the largest common market for goods and services.”

The Pan African Business Women’s Association (PABWA) was launched just 2 days ago, on the exact same basis, with the very same narrative. The Chair of PABWA, Pinky Kekana, who is also the Secretary General of the Pan African Women’s Organisation, and South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, spoke to media gathered at the launch and said, “PABWA is focussing on maximising the opportunities for women across the continent in respect of their ECONOMIC emancipation. If women have access to the economy, and make contributions to the economy, the game changes completely.”

She also went on to say, “The world is based on a value system determined by economies. We need to give women the opportunities to access the economy, and be unapologetic about it.”

PABWA is premised on the belief that if we want to live in a time of economic gender parity, then we have to call on the AU to use the opportunity of the AfCFTA, to focus on economic emancipation for not just all Africans, but specifically for the women of Africa.

There is only a general reference made in the AfCFTA’s Preamble and in Article 3(e), which states the promotion of gender equality as one of the general objectives of the AfCFTA, but there is no specific chapter on policy directive or strategic plan, about how to ensure that economic emancipation for women specifically, is definitely an outcome of the world’s largest trade agreement, since the WTO.

The Pan African Business Women’s Association (PABWA) was created for exactly these reason, to not just address this lack of focus and articulation in the document, but also to drive solutions so that economic emancipation agenda to become a reality in the context of the AfCFTA, as the world does not need another ‘talk shop’. What we believe IS needed, is a vehicle to deliver on skills development, education, mentorship, etc through our 5 pillars/sectors that we wanted to start with (more will follow later). These are :

  • The Secondary Economy (Informal Trade)
  • Technology
  • Media
  • Mentorship
  • Research and Insights

A lack of skills across sectors, education, inability to access finance, inability to access technology or the use of it, and many other constraints, that have severely hindered women’s participation in the formal economy. We believe that the 5th pillar will allow us to understand what is happening on the continent, and get exact statistics and information, and then be able to drive certain programmes, in order for women to be skilled and educated, so they are ready and prepared for their inclusion in the economy. Bloomberg has already indicated their commitment in partnering with PABWA to do the research study and data collection – this announcement was made at Saturday’s launch event.

We are very excited at the new AU Chair’s approach, and making women empowerment and economic emancipation, the core of his Chairship. We look forward to seeing the AU’s commitment for women’s economic gender parity, in the context of the AfCFTA, come to life.

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The Pan African Business Women’s Association debuts with a call for women to be included in the AfCFTA
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