• Friday, September 29, 2023
businessday logo


FG, OWIT advocate gender inclusion in AfCFTA strategies, policies

FG, OWIT advocate gender inclusion in AfCFTA strategies, policies

The Federal government and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) have advocated gender inclusion in national strategies and policies as part of efforts to position women for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking during the African women trade conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Mariam Katagum, Minister of state for trade and investment, noted that the launch of trading under the AfCFTA in Januaiy 2021, has unlocked the potential for African women to grow their businesses from micro to macro enterprises. According to her, companies have to invest in women directly by integrating gender policies and practices with global diversity.

“With the launch of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Januaiy 2021, the expectations are high as relates to the expanded business prospects for women-led businesses, which will unlock the potential for African women to grow their businesses from micro to macro enterprises,” she said.

Representing the Minister, Suleman Audu, director, commodities and export department explained that the agreement which established the AfCFTA recognizes the need to build and improve the export capacity of both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium size enterprises in which women and youth actively participate.

According to her, through the AfCFTA, informal and micro and small enterprises will be integrated into the continental markets, while breaking the barriers businesses encounter as they try to penetrate more advanced regional and overseas markets.

Read also: Azukaego Chukwuelue, leading commercial and supply chain strategy is her thing

“Women, estimated to account for 70 per cent of informal crossborder trade in Africa, will be well positioned to tap into regional export destinations and use regional markets as stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets,” she said.

In her remark, Blessing Irabor, president, OWIT Nigeria said that the conference was established to contribute to existing narratives on facilitating the integration of African women in owned businesses in the region. She stressed the need for government to adequately capture and reflect women’s trading activities in national accounting systems and regional statistical databases.

According to her, “The organisation of women in trade has been a front runner for empowerment in trade for women over many decades.

Yonov Agah, director-general, Nigeria office for trade negotiations, noted that women constitute an important part of trade both in Nigeria and international markets. According to him, women currently represent about 60 percent of cross border movements and 70 percent of small enterprises.

“The involvement of women in trade cannot be overemphasized. Currently women represent about 70 percent of SMEs in Nigeria, which are important for economic growth.

“The AfCFTA have protocols that relates to women and youths in trade. And this will ensure that the voices of women are heard,” he said.