Madagascar is set to implement the 50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) project following the successful two-day stakeholders’ engagement held from 4 - 5 September 2018 in Antananarivo.
The COMESA delegation paid a courtesy call to the Minister of Trade and Consumption, Miss Yvette Sylla and to the Minister of Population, Social Protection and Promotion, Miss Naharimamy Lucien Irmah. Both Ministers expressed the government commitment and support towards the successful implementation of the project
The 50MWS is a three-year project funded by the African Development Bank. It is jointly implement-ed by three Regional Economic Communities (RECs): COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for Western African States (ECOWAS) in 38 countries.
Addressing delegates during the forum, Minister Naharimamy Lucien Irmah said the geographical location of Madagascar should not hinder the access of Malagasy entrepreneurs to COMESA mar-kets.
“Women are serious entrepreneurs in Madagascar be it in trading clothing articles, craft, essential oils, and agriculture, among others,” she said. “However, selling of their products remains a serious challenge. Since this project is technology based, we are expecting it to help them penetrate the COMESA market and reach out to a wider target.”
The COMESA Head of the Delegation, Mrs. Mekia Mohammed Redi outlined how the project will contribute to the empowerment of the Malagasy women through the provision of financial and non-financial information and services.
“The objective of the project is to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information relevant to develop and grow their business. Therefore, the 50 Million African Women Speak, through the creation of a dynamic digital networking platform, will enable women entrepreneurs in Africa to connect with one another in ways that will foster peer-to-peer learn-ing, mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge within communities”.
She also added that the platform will provide information and available services on social and other matters relevant to women empowerment in general.
According to studies conducted separately by the African Development Bank and COMESA, the ap-propriate use of ICTs contributes towards reducing some of the gender-specific challenges affecting women entrepreneurs in Africa.
The government of Madagascar pledged to support the implementation of the project. Among the key milestones realized was the formulation of the country team that will drive the implementation of the project at the national level. The country Team is made up of representatives from the public sector, private sector, women associations and non-governmental organizations. The country team agreed that the project will be led and housed in the Ministry responsible for gender and women’s affairs. The national content developer will be responsible for gathering and developing relevant con-tent to be uploaded on the platform will also be working under the supervision of the Ministry respon-sible for gender.