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The Economic Potential of Gender Parity for Africa

Although some African countries have made significant progress toward gender parity in various domains, the continent as a whole is falling behind. African policymakers, businesses, and community leaders need to step up their game in at least five priority areas.

JOHANNESBURG – As home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Africa is an exciting frontier for businesses looking for opportunities to expand in new markets. Yet persistent gender inequality is limiting the continent’s potential.

Notwithstanding success stories about women at the top of the pyramid, millions of ordinary African women are not sharing equally in Africa’s economy and society. Worse, progress toward gender parity has stagnated, or even regressed, in recent years. While women account for over 50% of the continent’s population, they generated just 33% of its GDP in 2018.

Progress toward gender parity varies across regions and countries, of course. Whereas Southern and East Africa have achieved solid progress, other countries in Sub-Saharan and northern Africa still have not. Some African countries have advanced gender equality in the workplace, but not in society at large, and vice versa. Ultimately, though, progress on one front is impossible without progress on the other.

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