With Women's Month taking place in South Africa this month, the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum in Sandton is providing a platform for women's development in traditionally male-dominated infrastructure sectors.
"The role of women in Africa’s economic development remains a central issue with gender inequality thwarting growth in many countries. The women of Africa currently represent an untapped economic force that is necessary for the continent’s socio-economic development as well the optimisation of its potential," said Liz Hart, Managing Director of Infrastructure Africa.
Women are catalysts for meaningful change on the African continent and that women and women leaders will be critical in leading our continent into a new future is very evident. As such, creating opportunities that promote African women’s economic participation is a prerequisite if Africa is to experience its predicted growth within the next few decades.
In most African countries, only about a third of women participate in economic activities, however research shows that when women are actively involved, the improvement is measureable: In Africa, women’s economic participation encourages increased GDP, better governance within political structures and improved performance as a result of leadership within organisations.
And it’s not only women’s economic participation that’s needed – women in Africa need to become more representative in most spheres, including in infrastructure sectors, and women need to become more involved in the decision-making and planning of infrastructure projects and programmes.
In addition, the burden of infrastructure deficit is carried mostly by women, who walk kilometres per day and spend hours collecting water as well as wood for cooking and heating. Thus the design of infrastructure programmes needs to prioritise such gender-specific issues to ensure that women are able to carry out their everyday chores more efficiently, allowing more time for family care, educational opportunities, productive work and participation in community life.
Although significant progress on the integration of gender in the infrastructure domain has taken place in the last decade, much more is needed to establish women’s inclusivity in African infrastructure. The event aims to provide opportunities for women to unlock opportunities for growth in the African infrastructure arena and this can be in the form of personal growth through learning, meeting business mentors, creating new business connections through the key people attending and growing their existing infrastructure businesses by doing deals.
The Infrastructure Africa 2-day conference takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from the 21 - 22 August and will host several leading women infrastructure experts as speakers as well as participants who are active in Africa's infrastructure sectors.