Women of Africa: a powerful untapped economic force
Challenges to women’s economic participation in Africa
"We need to ensure that the energy, skills, strength, values and wisdom of women become an integral part of the remodeled economic infrastructures now being developed by global leaders." Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development, Former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa
- Restrictive laws
Women's rights are still in their infancy in large parts of Africa. Women cannot inherit, own land or own property in many cases.
- The large amount of time spent on child rearing
Fertility rates differ from region to region with wealthier regions with higher GDPs in the north and south having birth rates of approximately three and regions with lower GDP's having higher birth rates of approximately five.
- Infrastructure challenges hamper women's productivity
There is a need to build up infrastructure in terms of public institutions such as health care facilities as well as address the issue of service delivery.
- Unconscious bias
Social relations also pose significant challenges. Many women remain extremely vulnerable to male attitudes that disempower women in families and communities..
- Impact of war
A major challenge faced by women in times of conflict and civil strife is the use of rape as a weapon of war.
- The health of women is not the priority it should be
There are numerous reasons for this, emanating from the availability of good primary health care, access to such health care and access to drugs for diseases such as malaria and HIV. The African continent is plagued by non-communicable diseases such as malaria, as well as threats to water and food safety and security. In addition, a lack of pre- and ante-natal care pose serious risks.
- HIV is of growing concern to all in African countries
HIV is the leading cause of maternal and child mortality in Africa. The disease knows no gender, race or age. However, women are at a much higher risk of contracting HIV. There are numerous reasons for this: firstly, because of their biological make-up, another reason being how vulnerable they are seen to be within their communities.
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