There is more women representation in African parliaments than the world average, but it is not entirely rosy just yet, for gender parity on the continent.
Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, the first female secretary general of the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA believes the progress made by women in terms of representation at governance levels merits applause.
“ I think Africa has made great strides in doing this and I think sometimes its just assumed that maybe we are lagging behind,’‘ says Kapwepwe.
"Africa is the only continent that has a gender driven agenda for specifically addressing women and young people. And so my hope is that in the next couple of years, we would see more female participation in the boardrooms, the financial sector, in the construction industry and other sectors as well." - Foluke Akinmola
‘’…we have a new president in Ethiopia who is a woman, we also have Rwanda, one of our member countries which is very strong on gender representation in cabinet. It is almost 50- 50 basis and other countries are going along as well.’‘ she adds.SUGGESTED READING: Forbes 2018 Most Powerful Women: Ethiopia president sole African
At the 2018 Africa conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, a call was made to give women a greater role on the African development agenda.
According to an African development bank Afdb study on inclusive boards in Africa’s top listed companies, one third of African board rooms have no women at all.
Several women advocates believe this has to change.
‘‘We can’t focus on just women when they get into the work place and then think that we are going to magically help them become leaders. It actually starts from early childhood education where we have to look at the curriculum that we are putting in front of young girls and ask ourselves if its empowering or entrepreneurIal”. Nosy Mbandra, a women’s rights advocate explains.
Another woman advocate at the forum Foluke Akinmoladun expresses hope.
“Africa is the only continent that has a gender driven agenda for specifically addressing women and young people. And so my hope is that in the next couple of years, we would see more female participation in the boardrooms, the financial sector, in the construction industry and other sectors as well.”
For the women advocates at the forum, a significant increase in gender representation and parity in Africa would help improve the quality of governance and accelerate development on the continent.