The rise of the African Woman
Although much still needs to be done, fair gender representation, which has been underutilized as a resource for too long, has received a boost with improvement in the number of African women holding key public offices, for example, Joyce Banda (Malawi’s president), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria’s finance minister), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (AU chairperson) to name but a few.
African women have penetrated the business and political corridors in many countries and are increasingly filling roles traditionally occupied by men. Their representation in parliaments in sub-Saharan Africa is now higher than in South Asia, the Arab states or Eastern Europe. According to the 2012 data from the Inter- Parliamentary Union, women occupy 20.2 percent of parliamentary seats in sub-Saharan Africa, which is slightly higher than the world average of 19.5%.
Also, going by the World Bank estimates that eliminating barriers which discriminate against women’s working in certain sectors could increase labor productivity by as much as 25%, sub-Saharan is already achieving this with an estimated 50 percent of the agriculture sector being women – higher than in some countries.