WINHOEK – President of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun believes African women should play a much bigger role in commercial activities for there to be economic growth that would propel the continent to the level of a major economic player on a global scale.
“The elevated participation of African women in business and economic decision making must be recognised as a key pillar of our economic development strategy going forward,” Namundjebo-Tilahun remarked yesterday at a one-day business conference in Windhoek.
She went on to say that the “game of business” has been left largely in the hands of men while women are expected to be housewives and perform a few other light jobs.
The gathering saw 33 Nigerian business and professional women as well as 47 of their Namibian counterparts convening at a local hotel. The conference, with the theme ‘increasing business and networking opportunities’ aimed to explore business opportunities between the two countries, as well as promote business networking.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the Murtala Mohammed Foundation’s Women in Development enterprise which is active across Africa made the conference possible. Namundjebo-Tilahun said Nigeria, having played a crucial role in the political liberation of Africa, can play an equally big role as Africa strives to build its economy.
“We believe we can do so much business with our Nigerian counterparts which can make a remarkable impact on Africa’s economy,” said Namundjebo-Tilahun. She hailed the role Nigerian women in business have played in the Nigerian economy, adding that Namibia is eager to learn from that experience. She told the attendees that the gathering was an important one as it created a unique opportunity for Nigerian and Namibian business women to jointly explore business opportunities that could push the African economic agenda forward.
Touching on some of the success stories on the state of Namibian women, Namundjebo-Tilahun said: “More Namibian women are entering various business trades that were traditionally reserved for men.”
Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Rosalia Nghidinwa, said the platform should serve as a way of breaking down barriers that women face in their bid to do business in Africa and abroad. “It is important that we network and learn from others especially on how women can take advantage of economic empowerment in our respective countries,” said the minister.
Eunice Akinwande who attended the conference said in Nigeria women in politics still face many problems, citing the role of culture as a contributing factor. Regarding women’s representation in that country’s parliament she said: “In Nigeria we are not doing very badly with a 35 percent representation and we are climbing for 50/50 representation.” Another woman from Nigeria said the country is faring well in all agricultural sectors with women making up about 80 percent of that sector. The delegation will proceed to Swakopmund today where delegates will visit various Namibian businesses and continue with networking.
By Alvine Kapitako