Building a Resilient Innovative Africa in a COVID-19 world

“The informal sector is the largest employer in Africa, and heavily skewed towards women-led enterprises, many of which are trading informally across borders. Free trade zones, which is effectivelywhat theAfCFTA is, are by design targetedat the formal sector, not the informal. Toaddress this, wemust reframe how we think of those in the informal markets - not as people deliberately avoiding formalization but because of a system that is complex and expensive to enter.”

Dr. Anino Emuwa Founder, Avandis Consulting

Gender responsivebudgeting

Driving innovation inclusivityon the continent must however take a long-termviewbeyond the implications of COVID-19, although the pandemic will redefine the future of informal markets in Africa. The UN Women’s Sarr reiterates the need for African governments to adopt and implement gender-responsive budgeting (GRB), an initiative propagated by the UN Women since 1997, which seeks to ensure that the collection and allocation of public resources is carried out in ways that are effective and contribute to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. GRB should be based on in-depth analysis that identifies effective interventions for implementing policies and laws that advance women’s rights. It provides tools to assess the different needs and contributions of men and women, and boys and girls within existing revenues, expenditures and allocations and calls for adjusting budget policies to benefit all groups. This form of budgeting, along with legislation, and other practical policy measures can address gender bias and discrimination. It is a step not only towards accountability to women’s rights, but also towards greater public transparency and can shift economic policies leading to gains across societies.

“There is a lot that needs to be done to drive innovation inclusivity on the continent. The informal markets in Africa are largely led by women, many of whom are youth who should be in school or learning a vocational skill to be gainfully employed when they become adults. Governments must therefore first seek to implement gender-responsive budgeting so that they can keep track of the spend on women and ensure that funds are being channelled towards gender gap priorities including health, education, and economic empowerment. Even something as straightforward as ensuring that schools have separate restrooms for girls allows them to remain at school.”

Oulimata Sarr Regional Director, UNWomen


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