Women's Empowerment in Africa: Building Successful Female Entrepreneurs
Women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment continue to be key focus areas of development initiatives and action in Africa. While an increasing number of women occupy leadership positions in political, social and economic sectors, this has not translated into the overall empowerment of women. In part, this is because initiatives and policies to promote women to decision-making positions very rarely transform the systems and fundamental prejudices that create a gap between women’s formal and actual power. Strategies to empower women do not sufficiently change the perception held by those in power of women and their capabilities, and that this is only partly achieved by investing in women’s education and ability to generate an income. In addition, a sole focus on promoting individual women to strategic positions overlooks the important role women’s organising plays in challenging and undoing the beliefs and systems that prevent women from achieving equality in all spheres of their lives. This study investigates the main drivers, obstacles and opportunities for women’s empowerment in Africa, specifically looking at the entrepreneurial activities of women in the Graca Machel Trust’s Women Creating Wealth (WCW) programme in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. Entrepreneurship, and particularly African women’s entrepreneurship, is increasingly hailed as one of the cornerstones of women’s empowerment and overall economic growth on the continent. The overarching purpose of this study is to examine how to improve approaches to women’s economic empowerment in Africa. While the focus of the study is entrepreneurship, the objective is to understand the drivers, obstacles and opportunities facilitating women’s economic empowerment on the continent.