Women empowerment, digital inclusion & good governance key to Africa’s growth – Kamala Harris
Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris has identified women empowerment, digital inclusion, good governance and democracy as key element that will hasten Africa’s economic growth.
Addressing youth and women at a public lecture at the Black Stars in Accra on Tuesday, 28 March 2023, Kamala Harris said the world must be international in empowering women to make progress.
She said the youth form the bulk of Africa’s population and with innovation, they can solve the world’s problems.
She told a crowd of young people gathered at the Black Stars square that “We need to be international and make progress in these three key areas - the empowerment of women, digital inclusion and good governance and democracy all of which is a focus of my visit to the continent and going forward, and all of which has the potential to create eve more innovation, innovation that will unlock new jobs, new industries and exponential growth.”
“So let us agree women around the world must be able to fully participate in economic, political and social lives and they must be able to participate equally including in leadership roles, it is a key to maximizing global growth and opportunities.”
Despite the knowledge that including women in leadership positions is key to global growth, she bemoaned, however, that “we see gender disparities around the world including the United States, disparities we must all address.”
Citing an example, she noted that on the continent of Africa “we know women grow a majority of the food yet they are less likely to own the land they farm. They represent a majority of frontline healthcare workers but face disparities in healthcare outcomes.”
“Women are entrepreneurs yet have limited access to capital and markets, they are peace makers and bridge buildings yet continue to be underrepresented at tables where decisions are being made. And there are many factors that impact a woman’s ability to survive and thrive, one of those is economic empowerment, and when we lift up the economic status of a woman let’s be clear we lift up the economic status of her children, her family, her community, the entire economy benefits.”
Vice President Harris stated that the United States of America will work alongside her partners each and every day to close gender gaps in Ghana and around the world and ultimately “our believe is that the empowerment of women is rooted in the concept of freedom not just freedom from violence or want but freedom to create one’s own future, a freedom we desire for all people."
Touching on making progress in digital economy, the US Vice President said “whether you are a student relying on virtual courses, a farmer relying on an app for early warning about an extreme weather, or a small business owner looking to sell goods online, digital services are essential to 21st century economies.”
She indicated that there are places on the continent of Africa that lead the world in digital solutions yet other places on the continent lag behind.
Access to internet, she stated, drives growth and creates opportunity for innovation. “Ones people are online they have greater access to education, greater access to information and greater access to financial services that is why the United States will double down on our efforts to mobilise billions of dollars in public and private capital from the United States for the continent of Africa and around the world in order to expand internet access for the benefit of all people here on the continent,” she added.
To this end, Kamala Harris said the partnership between the public and private sector is essential, partnerships that combine the experience and expertise of the public and private sector. Together, we can unleash growth and opportunities that far exceeds what either the public or private sector can achieve on its own and the United State is committed to build this type of partnership to increase digital inclusion on the continent.”
And finally, to create inclusive economic growth and to advance innovation, she stated “we must continue to support and invest in good governance and democracy.”
Good governance she indicated delivers predictability, stability and rule of law which is what businesses need to expand and benefits all of society and good governance is a key attribute of a good democracy.
According to her, “recent polling tells us the vast majority of Africans support democracy over other forms of government which reflects our shared desire for freedom and opportunity, transparency and accountability, for free and fair election, the orderly transition of power and the protection of fundamental human rights, indeed this is a priority for the American people and it is a global priority, the United States will continue to work alongside democratic governments and in support of democratic aspirations of the people of this continent.”
She continued “In demonstration of this partnership, this week our administration is co-hosting in Zambia the summit for democracy, an opportunity to learn from each other and strengthen democratic institutions and I will say while democracy is always a work in progress including in my own country, the American people will always stand with those who stand for freedom and let us be clear that innovation thrives in a democracy, new ideas thrives where freedoms thrives, free thinking leads to problem-solving…and acting together with intention, we can make progress in these three areas – the empowerment of women, digital inclusion and good governance and democracy.”
“Let us take a moment to imagine the future - a future where women are not just included but also lead, imagine a future where every person is connected to the digital economy, a future where every young person trust that their voices are heard, a future that is propelled by African innovation…Let us consider then our shared future and know the United States will remain a steadfast partner for progress…”
She concluded by asking the young people to “dream with ambition and lead with conviction.”
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