By Fatimah Kelleher
In recent years, women’s economic empowerment (WEE) has been the focus of perhaps the most intensive spotlight to date within the international development global arena. The creation of the UN High Level Panel on WEE in September 2015, in the wings of the UN General Assembly that ushered in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has led to a plethora of policy dialogue and programming unprecedented since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.1 Parallel to this, Africa’s overall economic growth over the last decade has created an interest in the continent from both international public and private sector players who now also see the promise of large untapped markets alongside the continent’s ubiquitous natural resources and fertile agricultural land (Bashir and Amine, 2016). However, with a growing wealth gap and deepening inequality across the continent (despite a growing middle class), equitable and inclusive growth remains elusive (Zwane, 2015), while structural inequalities and patriarchal norms persist.
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