The First Lady of Madagascar Her Excellency Mrs Voahangy Rajaonarimampainina has taken over the helm of the COMESA First Ladies Roundtable with a call on Member States to include women and youths in the industrialization process.
Madam Rajaonarimampianina said it was important for the Roundtable to call upon governments to ensure that promotion of womenâ€™s local products is a core part of industrialization in order to contribute to development of regional trade.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Minister of Population and Gender Honourable Onitiana Realy, the First Lady said promoting trade and empowering women should be a core part of COMESA. This was during the opening of the ninth First Ladies Roundtable in Madagascar.
The Roundtable took place on the side-lines of the nineteenth COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Governments.Â Its main objective is to advocate for the implementation of the COMESA Gender Policy and Social Development policies for the empowerment of women and enhance their participation in the COMESA Economic Integration Agenda.
She said: â€œOur societies need to recognize the industrious nature of women. They are well- grounded in knowledge and experience to play their role in economic industrialization. They can do this if they are given equitable opportunities and supported by all concerned bodies.â€
She pointed out that women are already involved in production at household level and thus know how to manage and sustain a family with limited resources in good and bad times.
Mrs Rajaonarimampianina will Chair the COMESA First Ladies Roundtable for a period of 12 months.
And United Nations Populations Fund East and Southern Africa Regional Director Dr Jullita Onabanjo, who was guest of honour, said all women and girls from all backgrounds in the COMESA region should be given greater opportunities and more tools to become regional traders in locally manufactured products.
Assistant Secretary General Administration and Finance Ambassador Nagla El Hussainy said COMESA has been making deliberate efforts to facilitate the removal of existing impediments that hinder the effective participation of women and men in the activities of regional integration.
The theme of the Roundtable was â€œPromoting the processing of local products through womenâ€™s knowhow for the development of inter-regional trade.â€