ECA hosts conference on leveraging AfCFTA for women’s economic empowerment


The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), a unit of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), on Tuesday hosted a conference on leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost women’s economic empowerment.



The virtual event was aimed at creating a better understanding of the contribution of the private sector to policies that will advance the economic empowerment of women under the trade bloc, which commenced business on 1 January this year.


It also discussed how to ensure decent and productive employment for women in trade in services, as well as how to create a gender-responsive trade facilitation agenda, and consider the gender dimension of investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights under the AfCFTA.


Speaking at the virtual event, South Africa’s Women Minister, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, advocated for women’s voices to be taken onboard in the implementation of the AfCFTA:


Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director, Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at the ECA, emphasized that the AfCFTA is vital for women’s businesses to thrive: 


Also scheduled to speak in the opening session were David Luke, Coordinator of the ATPC; Mr Cas Coovadia, BUSA CEO; South Africa’s Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite-Nkoana Mashabane; Ms Busi Mabusa, Chairperson of the International Development Corporation (IDC); and Ms Niki Kruger, Chief Director of Trade Negotiations in the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC).


The outcome of the conference will be used to support the design of gender-responsive measures that help to build back better in longer-term post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts, accelerating delivery on the 2020-2030 African Women’s Decade of Financial and Economic Inclusion.


The AfCFTA promotes entrepreneurship and economic empowerment opportunities for women-owned businesses through increased access to new regional export markets and expanded opportunities across key sectors. With the exception of Eritrea, the remaining 54 member-countries of the African Union (AU) have signed the treaty establishing the AfCFTA among which 36 have ratified the agreement.



Amaka E. Nliam


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