We know that the most effective policy for sustainable development is investing in empowering women and girls. We have the evidence about their impact on families, communities, industries and nations. Any efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic needs to ensure and enhance their empowerment, including especially their sexual and reproductive health and rights, social protection and access to finance.
Around the world, the value of women’s unpaid work, at home and in their communities, is estimated to amount to 13% of the global GDP or about US $10 trillion. On top of that, about 50% of working women are working in vulnerable situations, often unprotected by labor laws. According to UN Women, women make up over 74% of workers in Africa’s informal sector, often in the agricultural, hospitality and domestics sectors (domestic workers represent about 2.2% of Africa’s labour force, over 5 million people, 74% of whom are women). Most domestic workers do not have access to any social protection. In agriculture, recent estimates by the World Bank found that, depending on the country, women contribute between 20-40% of labour input. Despite this situation, approximately 26% of African women are engaged in entrepreneurial activities, the highest rate of female entrepreneurship globally, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
After COVID 19, we must see women from all classes and at all levels participating and leading action in all sectors of society in Africa and Afro-descendant communities around the world, beyond rhetoric and tokenism. It is important that there are at least double the women in positions in issues of their expertise and where they really have the last say and can advance the gender equality agenda and therefore, sustainable development for all.