The Graça Machel Trust (GMT) announced today the launch a Pan-African initiative to ‘Multiply the Faces and Amplify the Voices’ of African women as a force for economic and social transformation.
The Women Advancing Africa (WAA) initiative seeks to ‘Multiply the Faces and Amplify the Voices’ of African women to drive inclusive, sustainable growth across the continent. The Trust will challenge African leaders, government participants and private sector partners to design innovative solutions and commit to specific “Calls for Action” that will increase women’s economic power and elevate the role of women in African development.
On what makes the Women Advancing Africa Forum different, Mrs. Graça Machel says, “To our knowledge there are not many places or platforms where extraordinary examples of successes by African women is showcased. Through this forum, we want women to come together to strategise, share and learn from each other on how to grow and develop to the next level in their economic and social journey.”
The inaugural Forum will take place from 10-12 August in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and will convene more than 250 women leaders, rising stars and global champions to explore the critical role women play in shaping Africa’s future. Under the overarching theme of ‘Driving Social and Economic Transformation’, the Forum will focus on three core pillars: promoting financial inclusion, increasing market access and driving social change. The Trust believes that the selection of these three thematic areas provides a common agenda for women in the economy, as they are cut across all sectors of the economy and speak to all women at different levels of the economy.
“Driving Social and Economic Transformation means that we need to look holistically at womens’ roles and perceived value. Transformation is not only about numbers, although the numbers of women represented on Boards, as CEOs, or Department Heads is important, we need a transformative agenda which challenges the conceptualization, social norms, outlook and value given to women and their contribution to the economy and society,” adds Machel.
African women are a powerful economic force but continue to face significant barriers across the continent. Today, seventy percent of African women are financially excluded and many lack access to critical markets, resources and services needed to succeed. In a report released on International Women’s Day, the Trust found that more than 50 percent of female entrepreneurs in East Africa cite access to finance and markets as major challenges in growing their businesses.
Initial support for the WAA initiative is generously provided by The Intel Foundation and The UPS Foundation. Media partners include: the ABN360 Group, incorporating CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa; the Nation Group and locally based Azam Media Group. These partners share the Trust’s belief that advancing women economically is crucial to the health and prosperity of African families, communities and nations.
The Trust is seeking additional partners to assist in the execution of WAA.
The Trust has also selected APCO Worldwide, the largest women-owned communications firm in the world, to be the convening partner for the Women Advancing Africa initiative. With deep roots in Africa and a long history of planning and executing high-profile events around the world, APCO is working closely with the Graça Machel Trust to bring this important, first-of-its-kind initiative to life.