“Government is fully committed to support women to stand on their feet by setting up their own business given the fact that empowering women makes sense from an economic point of view. It is also the right thing to do if we want to erase inequality, decrease poverty, create greater social justice and ensure sustainable development”.

The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, made this statement today at Voilà Hotel in Bagatelle. She was speaking at the launching of a two-day stakeholder engagement meeting pertaining to the COMESA 50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) project.

50MWS is a digital platform built for Africa to foster women economic empowerment. The platform presents major innovation opportunities which contribute to women empowerment with special focus on African women start-ups, new and established business operators to develop new business models, products and services.

The stakeholder engagement meeting is organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Over 40 stakeholders from the public and private sectors, and women associations as well as women entrepreneurs are participating. The aim is to engage Mauritian women on the implementation of the 50MWS project.

In her address, the Vice-Prime Minister recalled that the first step in promoting women entrepreneurship is by acknowledging that women do not always have access to the same resources as men. It is necessary to take bold steps to correct that imbalance, she said.

Referring to the African Outlook 2017, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo indicated that women in Africa are twice more likely to start a business than women elsewhere in the world. It is therefore fitting that the 50MWS initiative is promoted across the African continent which has a thriving start-up community full of dynamic women entrepreneurs, she added.

According to the Vice-Prime Minister, supporting women empowerment equates to creating countless opportunities for African countries and ultimately for the continent as a whole. She reassured that full support will be extended to Mauritian women entrepreneurs in terms of training to use IT tools given that access to technology is indeed an incredible resource which can change their outlook of the world.

For her part, Mrs Mekia M. Redi, COMESA Senior Gender and Mainstreaming Officer, and Head of the COMESA delegation currently in Mauritius for, stated that it is pertinent to engage in the 50MWS project and shares information about the women economic empowerment project.

Women play a critical role in the development of our economies, she said. However, they continue to face gender-specific barriers such as limited access to information and networking opportunities, business training, weak property rights that deprive them of collateral and tangible assets. These are social barriers that discourage them from thriving as entrepreneurs, she pointed out. Thus, the use of ICT as an enabler will contribute to lessening some of the challenges affecting women to start and grow their business, she added.

50MWS project

The 50 Million African Women Speak project, spanning over three years, is funded by the African Development Bank. It is jointly implemented in 38 countries by the three regional economic communities namely COMESA, East African Community and the Economic Community for Western African States.

50MWS will create a networking platform to connect women entrepreneurs and encourage peer-to-peer learning, mentoring as well as information and knowledge sharing.

The platform which is accessible on ICT devices including mobile phones, will give African women the opportunity to start, grow, and scale their business. It will also enable them to access financial services and create business opportunities online. The ultimate outcome is to directly impact 50 Million women and create fair waged jobs for young people from the increased business activities, and capital flow.

Source: Government of Mauritius