High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment calls for ending gender discrimination to ensure the full potential of Africa’s youth at African Union Summit

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media and HLP member during his presentation at the AU Summit. To his right, Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director, Gender and Development Directorate of the African Union Commission, and to his left, Ms. Madam Kade N. Elizabeth, Minister in Charge of Women, Protection of Child and National Solidarity of Chad. Photo: UN Women/Helen Yosef
Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media and HLP member during his presentation at the AU Summit. To his right, Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director, Gender and Development Directorate of the African Union Commission, and to his left, Ms. Madam Kade N. Elizabeth, Minister in Charge of Women, Protection of Child and National Solidarity of Chad. Photo: UN Women/Helen Yosef

The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment was represented at the 4th African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, 29-30 June, organized on the margins of the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, by HLP member Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media. 

On 29 June, Mr. Ba made a presentation on the linkages between the recommendations and the drivers of the HLP, following the final report presented in March 2017 to the UN Secretary-General, and the Pillar 1 of the AU Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, which focuses on Entrepreneurship and Employment. 

The presentation, which took place at the African Union premises and in the presence of ministers from Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, among others, highlighted the importance of addressing the gender-specific challenges to African youth’s employment and entrepreneurship. With 60 per cent of Africa’s population currently 24 years old and below, youth represents one of Africa’s greatest asset. However, African youth account for more than 60 percent of all unemployed people in Africa and the rates are worse for young women who face specific, structural and cultural barriers.  At the presentation, Mr. Ba stressed that empowering young girls is an urgent requirement to leverage the full potential of Africa’s large youth population, which holds the promise of social and economic transformation.   

Targeted action is needed to ensure young women’s access to the labour-market and to financial assets and services. Action is also needed to strengthen their access to quality education, health services including sexual and reproductive health services, and to ensure the fulfillment of all their rights. Young women’s economic participation and empowerment require a holistic approach by all stakeholders.   

 “To strengthen young women’s entrepreneurship, we must ensure their equal access to and control over productive resources, including land, labour and capital,” said Mr. Ba. “As long as girls do not have equal and safe access to relevant, affordable, lifelong, quality education, they will not develop the skills they need to compete and succeed in the labour-market or in business,” he added. 

The event followed another presentation on 28 June to national and regional partners based in Addis, in a session organized in collaboration with UN Women, and with opening remarks by H.E. Demitu Hambisa, Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Ethiopia, and Ms. Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, where the HLP was represented by Mr. Ba and Ms. Marianne Olesen, Coordinator of the HLP Secretariat. They used the event to encourage all stakeholders to commit to action towards the empowerment of women and girls throughout the continent, and seek inspiration from the recommendations, reports, and toolkits of the HLP.

Planet 50–50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality