Nairobi, 20 June 2022 (TDI): AfCFTA is holding brainstorming sessions with partners. The session will remain ongoing from Monday to Tuesday. During the meetings, discussions will be around the coming negotiation on the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.

UN Women and UNDP are in partnership with AfCFTA in this series of meetings.

According to AfCFTA, on the first day of the sessions, the key findings of national consultations and regional surveys were the main topics of the discussion. Presentations were made by the UNDP and UN Women Africa.

Key findings were discussed where women shared the challenges in trade.  These key findings will become part of the ongoing process to develop the upcoming Protocol.

During today’s session on the “importance of main streaming gender within the framework of the AfCFTA”, there were three focused areas.

These areas are gender equality and women’s empowerment, access to financial and economic empowerment, and women’s financial and economic empowerment.

AfCFTA’s Efforts to Promote Women’s Participation in Trade

According to Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, women are the drivers of the African economy. Moreover, small and medium enterprises run by women make up about 60 percent of Africa’s GDP, creating 450 million jobs.

Therefore, AfCFTA has been working hard on empowering SMEs, with which, more and more female entrepreneurs can benefit from relevant policies.

To achieve the above aim, AfCFTA started to develop a protocol to address issues of women and youth in 2021.

Meanwhile, Emily Mburu-Ndoria, the director for Trade in Services and Intellectual Property at the Secretariat has made the announcement.

According to Mburu-Ndoria, “At the core of the AfCFTA implementation, we have the roles of women and youth. protocol will therefore ensure the full inclusion of women and youth”.

Additionally, such hard work to achieve a portal for women is a great success compared with the past few years.

In 2018, five African regional economic communities (RECs) included about 20 different gender-related provisions directly in their establishing treaty.

These five RECs are the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (the ECCAS), and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (the SADC).

In contrast, AfCFTA, signed in 2018, contained only two gender-related provisions at that time. One is in its preamble and the other one is in its list of general objectives.

For now, AfCFTA is paying more and more attention to gender equality recently and has been making remarkable progress. In this case, the sign of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade is worth looking forward to.