In line with its commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Inter-governmental Authority on development (IGAD) secretariat convened IGAD women in business conference in November, 2011 in Kampala, Uganda the three days conference was attended by about delegates of six IGAD member states, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. The participants of the conference were drawn from the ministries of women/Gender, Trade/commerce, finance and economic co-operation, national chambers of commerce as well as women’s business associations.
As per the objectives spelt out for convening the conference, delegates of IGAD member states presented situational reports on women and entrepreneurship development in their respective countries. Based on these presentations, experiences were shared and ideas exchanged on various issues revolving around women in business in the region. Moreover. Social protection instruments relevant to women in the trade sector have been reviewed and countries which have not yet ratified and domesticated these urged to follow suit so that they would live up to their expectations.
The conference participants have come out with concrete recommendations and developed workable action plan for implementation at different levels. While waiting for these to be endorsed by a regular IGAD council of ministries meeting and or the heads of state and government summit, the IGAD secretariat has felt the need for conducting a fellow up meeting of the women in business conference convened in November last year.
Most importantly, there was unfinished agenda presented then, the formation of the IGAD women in business forum to which IGAD secretariat was given a mandate to sort out issues raised during the event. Accordingly, further consultations with stakeholders and resolving the uncertainties sooner will be crucial since the forum to be established equally needs endorsement by high-level policy organ meeting. IGAD organized a two days meeting at Hilton hotel in Nairobi, Kenya from June 25th-26, 2012 and seven IGAD member states were attended the conference, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and South-Sudan.
The Secretary General of the African Federation of Environmental Journalists (AFEJ) Mr. Daud Abdi Daud who was a member of Somalia delegations addressed the participants said “Obviously, the reality is that women in Africa have limited access to productive assets, including land and to other things necessary for production like credit and education. However, the emerging microeconomic analysis consistently shows that gender-based inequality acts as a constraint to poverty reduction and sustainable development. These differences are too important to ignore and their impacts too severe, especially given Africa’s chronic food insecurity and environmental vulnerability”
“I believe that the participation rights and fair access to markets can build the resilience of communities and help them to shift towards a sustainable economy while at the same time adapting to changing climate. AFEJ invites you to share the information you need to put the frontline sites in order to shift your activities to be headed within Africa context and globally at large” Mr. Daud added
The participants have come out and agreed similarly last year with concrete recommendations and developed workable action plan for endorsement the formation of the IGAD women in business forum and requested IGAD secretariat to organize another meeting in the coming year.