This week the UK Government hosted an Africa Investment Summit and I was delighted to participate in a round table discussion on applying gender-smart practices to business operations and share Divine Chocolate learning and of course some chocolate.
Set in the magnificent map room in the Foreign Office, ably chaired by Emma Wade-Smith OBE Trade Commissioner for Africa and Laurie Spengler from CDC the session looked at the barriers to women’s full participation and more importantly what we can all do make sure that we really make progress in the next year on this important issue.
Considering women as leaders, entrepreneurs, consumers, and workers, there is a great shared understanding of the issues that are a barrier to women’s participation, including access to education and training, appropriate finance, land and property rights and even networks. The power of data was widely recognised and how important it is that disaggregated data is collected accurately and analysed. I was proud that Divine has been addressing most of the priorities discussed over the last 20 years working with women farmers in West Africa.
If we are to rise to these challenges then solutions should be open source and actively shared and promoted so we don’t keep having to reinvent the wheel.
Partnerships are powerful and this summit is about building partnerships between the UK and Africa and between Governments and the private sector to create a future worth investing in for women and men.