Women Leading Paradigm Shift in West Africa: The Market

Women are the pillars of a growing economy in any developing country. Women are an essential requirement for development to take place at any given time. However for a very long time, women have been associated with poverty and oppression. Lately, women have decided to roll up their sleeves to take their rightful positions in development matters.

Women have risen to demand their rights in many instances, and this is set to make a revolution and leave a legacy that cannot be easily forgotten. Thus, the involvement of women in development has been viewed by many as a great paradigm shift whose impact cannot be easily eroded.

New Market creation by women
Women have also decided to use the available opportunities to advance their interests, knowing that political independence makes no sense without economic independence. Women have become more financially stable; therefore, they have helped reduce poverty in many ways. Financial stability helps women to save money and thus initiate development projects in their own interests.

Women have been involved in development by starting initiatives as table banking, cooperatives and women-run banks, among others. Such initiatives are an effort by women to empower their fellow women financially. The Central Bank of West African States handles the financial affairs of Mali and other members of the Economic Community of West African States. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average worker’s annual salary is approximately U.S. $1,500.

New Market creation by women farmers in Mali

(WNN) Severe, MALI, AFRICA: Village life for women is based on social interaction. This is why we formed an association to achieve activities that each of us can’t do alone. Every Wednesday, all the members of our association gather to work. As we are now in the rainy season, many farmers need additional people to work on their farms because even with all their family members, they do not have enough labor. Some of those people hire our association to work on their land.

Most of the women in the village are members of the association. There are 30 members in total, and all of them work together when someone hires the association. If you hire us for one day, you will pay 1,500 CFA francs (close to U.S. $3) to the association for each member working on the farm. When you just need us to work in your farm for half a day, you will pay half this price.

Increased domestic food production

Mali’s key industry is agriculture. Cotton is the country’s largest crop export and is exported west throughout Senegal and Ivory Coast. During 2002, 620,000 tons of cotton was produced in Mali, but cotton prices declined significantly in 2003. In addition to cotton, Mali produces rice, millet, corn, vegetables, tobacco and tree crops. Gold, livestock and agriculture amount to 80% of Mali’s exports.

Eighty percent of Malian workers are employed in agriculture. Fifteen percent of Malian workers are employed in the service sector. Seasonal variations lead to regular temporary unemployment of agricultural workers.

Country-led initiative for sustainable development

Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa is a multi donor trust fund administered by the African Development Bank – anchored in a commitment of U.S.$60 million by the governments of Denmark and the United States – to support small- and medium-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Africa. In many African countries, smaller clean/renewable energy projects are potentially viable from a commercial perspective, but the initial development costs often prevent these projects from accessing necessary financing.

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