Last week, the World Bank released its biennial Women, Business, and Law report , which documents the legal barriers faced by women at work and in business and highlights reforms implemented by countries around the world. The report scores countries across seven indicators such as building credit, incentives to work, access to institutions, and protection from violence, among others. This indicator measures equal treatment in accessing credit and financial services based on gender and marital status.
Other countries such as Botswana, Malawi, and Lesotho, increased access to credit information for women. Angola and Guinea also introduced laws banning discrimination based on gender when accessing financial services. Thus, attainment of sustainable development in Africa will require the provision of equal access to and full participation of women in power structures and decision-making Declaration, b. The BPoA therefore proposed the following measures that could be adopted to accelerate women's organizations' visible engagement in decision-making for sustainable development in Africa:.
The need for equal participation and fully involving women and women's organizations in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, were affirmed by the Security Council in resolution Hill et al. This mandate was also further supported by the Commission on the Status of Women CSW seeking equal participation of both women and men in politics, leadership, and decision-making Krook and True, The following are some of the challenges faced in women's participation in decision—making processes in Africa:.
Socio-demographic Barriers : These are factors such as age restrictions, gender norms and cultural practices which prevent women from participating in decision-making. Nzomo tied Kenyan women's limited participation in the competitive world of politics, to great responsibilities and heavy workloads associated with a woman's reproductive, domestic, and productive role.
Economic Barriers : Many African women usually lack the economic power necessary to fully participate in decision-making. Ballington and Matland suggested that women often lack the financial resources needed to fully participate in leadership and decision-making. Goetz and Hassim noted that circumstances of capitalist market relationships in poor countries have left women with little time and few resources for political participation.
Time Factors : Kiamba indicated that for many women, the time demands of such positions, conflict with the demands of the family and this in itself is a barrier.
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Structural Barriers : There are also other international, local resistance and structural barriers to women's participation in decision-making Kiamba, Gender Stereotypes : This implies entrenched societal and systemic gender stereotypes, which often prevent women from participating in decision-making. Zimbabwe, for example, had the Gender Affirmative Action Policy, the Nziramasanga Commission, and the National Gender Policy of , advancing gender equality and removing of all forms of gender-based discrimination in the nation.
However, Chabaya et al. Male Resistance: Men's resistance and non-preparedness to share political power and decision-making processes with women is a global phenomenon Schein, There is a dire need for substantive representation of women in decision-making positions in Africa, especially in the formulation of GEWE related policies and the mainstreaming of gender into existing policies, as well as plans and programmes aimed at explicitly advancing the gender equality agenda of the SDGs across the continent. Substantive presence of women is also needed as key decision-makers in policy formulation, aimed at achieving gender equality in development, sustainable peace, and good governance within African sub-regions.
There is also a need to visibly engage women's organizations in decision-making and transform partnering them with GEWE projects.
Women's participation and representation in decision-making bodies in Africa should not only be a numerical enhancement of presence, but their empowerment for political leadership and accountability at all levels. At national levels, state actors must be obligated to establish legal frameworks for the GEWE. There should also be an evolution of trans-national women social movements and engagement with the GEWE. In addition to decision-making, there is also the need for women to influence policies and strategies geared toward women's increased access to economic opportunities and effective participation in politics.
African women have only been marginally involved in decision-making. Creating opportunities for the institutionalization of women's visible involvement in decision-making in Africa will strengthen the acceleration of sustainable developmental goals on the continent. Consequently, governments of individual nations in Africa are expected to create an enabling policy environment and engagement strategies for the institutionalization of women's visible involvement in decision-making at all levels—families, communities, state wide and on national levels.
There is also the need for international agencies to continue to support women's organizations' visible engagement in decision-making in Africa. The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and has approved it for publication. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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