- Global Volunteers highlights that women comprise 43 percent of the world’s labor force, rising up to 70 percent in some countries and across Africa.
- The Africa Women Summit, as a tribalizing platform and movement, was born in 2018.
- Globally, from politics to entertainment and the workspace, women and girls are largely underrepresented.
A strong woman is deemed as someone who is self-aware and continuously grows into her true self by not being afraid of doing what she wants.
She is not afraid to follow her dreams, and she is someone with whom multitudes of people can resonate with and look up to.
Throughout history, women have played a role in ensuring the stability, progress, and long-term development of nations.
As explained by the United Nations WomenWatch, they play a significant role in supporting households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income and improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing.
Global Volunteers highlights that women comprise 43 percent of the world’s labor force, rising up to 70 percent in some countries and across Africa.
Additionally, 80 percent of agricultural production comes from small farmers, mostly whom are women.
In this light, United Nations Women note that women’s full and equal participation in all facets of society is a fundamental human right.
Yet, around the world, from politics to entertainment and the workspace, women and girls are largely underrepresented.
For instance, globally, only 1 in 4 women hold parliamentary seats, whereas in the workspace, out of 500 chief executives leading the highest-grossing firms, just under five percent are women.
The UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, during a Climate Finance Day side event in 2017, stressed that by not factoring women in climate action by denying them, among other essentials, a bank account, the world is underachieving on climate action when the world needs to overachieve and overachieve fast.
Echoing similar sentiments during a recent Africa Women’s Summit-Country Webinar in Cameroon, founder Belema Mechack-Hart said, “A healthy woman is a healthy continent and where many strong African women come together for a common goal, many good, sustainable, transformative things come to light.”
What is a Sustainable Community?
Sustainable development, explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a broad term to describe policies, projects, and investments that provide benefits today without sacrificing environmental, social and personal health in the future.
Country Chair of the G100 Women Economic Forum WEF Cameroon, and President and Managing Director of OA Consulting Group, Angélique Ondoa, during the Africa Women’s Summit-Country Webinar, Cameroon similarly defined a sustainable community as one that thinks and implements development for the next generation.
“It is a place that is able to manage its human, natural and financial capita’s unique and current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are made available for future generations,” she noted.
Lawyer and Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the International Federation of Female Lawyers, Caroline Time, added that it is a place where infrastructure caters for a happy, safe and healthy environment.
The recent AWS virtual event was moderated by Velveeta Viban.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted in 2015 by the United Nations member states as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
SDG #11, Sustainable Cities and Communities, advocates for cities and settlements that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
According to SDG #11 statistics, 1.1 billion urban residents live in slums.
“According to 2022 data from 1507 cities in 126 countries, only 51.6% of the world’s urban population has convenient access to public transport, with considerable variations across regions.”
1 billion people lack access to all-weather roads and 3 in 4 cities have less than 20 percent of their area dedicated to public spaces and streets.
Furthermore, UN Women highlights that more than 50 percent of urban women and girls in developing countries live without access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing and sufficient living areas.
Challenges in fostering sustainability
Acha Golder, an Engineer and advocate for girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), alludes that fear of venturing into industries like STEM on the basis of discriminatory influences inhibits women from progressing.
“Technology is the future of today’s world. Therefore women, girls and youth need to be able to use it for their advantage, but due to fear of the complexities technology is believed to come with, progression is compromised,” the expert says.
Victorine Macaulay, a Nutritional Therapist and Certified Marketer, further points out that mental health issues surrounding women also factor into a community’s achievement in sustainable development.
She says, “Women juggle a lot of responsibilities as caregivers, nurses and coordinators in their homes. That is why their mental state is fundamental to inducing development.
But rarely do women understand or have knowledge on what needs to be done in order to remain sane.”
Caroline Time, a Lawyer and PRO FIDA, stressed that the idea of adopting foreign laws and traditions that do not resonate with everyday society needs is a major flow in achieving sustainable development.
“When different laws come into play in addressing issues on community concern, it becomes a case of where does a community pick on?
And this creates a ridge that affects women as their literacy rates in law industries are limited.
They are mostly not aware of how the law can take front stage in solving disputes,” she says.
Women and Sustainable Communities
As is the vision of the Africa Women’s Summit to bring together women of multiple skills and backgrounds in fostering sustainable development, Angelique Ondoa, in the light of women and sustainable communities, insists that community service, volunteering either as a group or individuals to serve communities should take center stage.
She notes, “When women come together in movement, they have the ability to dissect what challenges, gaps and opportunities take center stage, and how to close those gaps.”
Lecturer and Public Financing expert Mémong Regine also insists that where societies have removed stereotypes that exist for girls in education systems, they strengthen vocal and advocacy goals in achieving sustainable communities.
“Inclusive quality education financing for women is essential to drive sustainable communities. When women and girls understand their rights and where their responsibilities begin and end, they become a force towards transformation,” she observes.
In support of this, Ms. Time maintained that quality education gives women the ability and freedom to exercise their rights towards a transformation that will be sustainable even for the next generations.
“Where women understand their value and rights, issues such as gender-based violence and mental health cease to form foundations of families and communities,” she commented.
Africa Women’s Summit
Having established how strong women form the basis of successful communities that are inclusive, healthy, and able to generate equitable and positive outcomes for the current generation and future generations, the Africa Women Summit (AWS), as a tribalizing platform and movement, was born in 2018.
It now exists to empower, uplift and encourage African women to recognize their immense potential as catalysts for social, economic, and political transformation.
The summit creates a safe space where women share their knowledge and have equal opportunities and platforms to participate, engage, and influence policies at all levels without intimidation, hindrance, or fear.
It has crossed borders, making its mark in Nigeria, Dubai, Rwanda, South Africa, and next Kenya under the theme Women’s Health: Empowering, voices, inspiring change.
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It has witnessed the presence of over 2000 women from 40 African countries, thus establishing it as a truly pan-African movement for change.