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Gender and Economic Empowerment in Africa, 8th Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum, Berlin, Germany, 22-23 May 2007

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There are multiple obstacles to the economic empowerment of women in Africa. For example, limited access to productive resources such as land, seed and fertiliser means that women may be unable to benefit from the expansion of trade in agricultural products. In fact, it has been calculated that agricultural productivity could increase by up to 20 percent if women's access to these resources were equal to men's. This paper - an outcome of the eight meeting of the African Partnership Forum - provides an overview of the status of women's economic empowerment in Africa, outlines international and regional commitments on gender equality and empowerment, and proposes concrete recommendations for African governments and development partners to translate these commitments into action. On land and property rights, it urges development partners to support African governments to establish clear legislative frameworks for protecting the rights of women to own and inherit land. This should be combined with advocacy and education to challenge deep-rooted cultural norms and practices which underlie discrimination in land tenure in Africa. Other recommendations include providing targeted support to women entrepreneurs managing small and micro-enterprises to enable them to expand into the formal sector; creating investment funds for women; and promoting gender-sensitive legislation on family rights.