Women’s Empowerment contribution to the inclusive economic development
Economic development refers to the positive results in the structural changes of a geographical area or a population: demographic, technical, industrial, health, cultural, and social. Such changes generate the enrichment of the people and the improved living conditions.
Women’s empowerment is a process through which a woman is transformed from a position in which she has limited power fueled by barriers related to inequalities between men and women, to a position in which she has unlimited power the same power as men. On the other hand, according to UN Women, the economic empowerment of women includes their ability to participate equitably in existing markets; their ability to access and manage productive capital, access to decent jobs, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and increased voice, agency and active involvement in economic decision-making at all levels, from the household to an international institution.
Women still encounter obstacles relating to strengthening their economic status and as entrepreneurs. This includes discrimination in education, training, employment, access to financial resources, the right to own or inherit the land, and lower wages. Women have suffered from unjust social heritage fueled by patriarchy in addition to discriminatory practices both in terms of gender equality, in the market, and the economic development sector. They are also subjected to harmful traditional practices such as early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which impedes their ability to exploit their full potential.
However, reducing social inequalities benefits the whole of society, not just women.
The observation is very different; partial consideration is given to the weight of the contribution and, in particular, the active role of women in economic growth. It is not that they were not economically significant; however, it is only that women ‘s efforts were mostly unable to demand or formally account for the profits of their labour. As an example, the significant influence that grassroots women have on building resilience in the field of climate change is evident. Also, in their society, rural women are pioneers in agriculture, food security and nutrition.
No statistical data documents the contribution of women to economic growth. Yet, these women are more active in the informal economy sector to support their household, children, their husbands and the community. This still reveals a form of gender inequality that needs to be addressed. There is a need to recognize unpaid care work.
Economic development can only be inclusive if all categories of the population (men, women, youth, persons living with disabilities, refugees), regardless of their sex, ethnic origin, age or status or religion, contribute to the country’s economic growth. In short, it is based on equal opportunities and the non-discriminatory participation of all sections of society.
Promoting equality between men and women in African societies must be the keystone to achieve real inclusive economic development, to ensure no one is left behind and that no group is disadvantaged in the race for sustainable development. Also, it is essential to highlight that the economic empowerment of women has emerged equally as an important and sustainable aspect of accelerating the development process in developing countries.
The solution to this problem comes down to correcting the inequalities by offering access to quality education and vocational training opportunities to women and young girls, which will undoubtedly reduce the illiteracy rate and reduce the rate of economic dependence to men. Also, allowing women to participate actively in the decision-making process on economic issues and enable women to participate in the formulation of economic development policies, which will undoubtedly create a sustainable impact on women’s economic empowerment.
Likewise, it is essential to provide small grants or micro-credit to women living in rural areas so that they can develop small income-generating activities and support their households. Educating girls increases their income potential and reduces poverty in their communities. These benefits are passed on from generation to generation because girls who have received a good education have healthier, fewer, and more educated children. This will contribute positively to the economic development of the country.
We cannot achieve sustainable development without input from all segments of society. Economic growth cannot be inclusive and sustainable if each party does not play its part legally.