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Summary note 5- Investing in women's economic resilience & social wellbeing

By Foreign Policy Centre.

In a series of Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) roundtable discussions - supported by Nestlé - the FPC seeks to explore how business can play a more constructive role in building resilience to improve women's economic and social wellbeing across Africa.

This series of roundtable discussions is taking place at a time when global development priorities are being reshaped and redefined by the 17 recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change agreement (COP21) which aspires to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels) however, has yet to provide the commitments needed to achieve this. In addition, at a time when the level of global inequality and insecurity disproportionately affecting women and girls continues to be compounded by the aftermath of an unprecedented global economic crisis, on-going global economic fragility and austerity producing mounting uncertainty. These conditions present very real challenges for public spending dedicated to sustainable development. As such, understanding the development transformation role played by business and enterprise across both the formal and informal sectors has become increasingly important. How does private sector development support structural transformation and enhance sustainable development outcomes? This might range from wealth and investment creation to employment-led growth. Private sector development might also include driving innovation and technological development or help to build essential infrastructure. Furthermore, business might also support enterprise development, help improve the quality of work and provide much needed skills development and improved productivity.

This summary note reflects the discussions which took place at the fifth session which focused on supporting innovation to promote food and nutritional security across Africa. This is particularly significant for women and girls given the interface between agriculture, rural economic development, and the need to build sustainable food systems to improve nutrition.

How does private sector development support structural transformation and enhance sustainable development outcomes? This might range from wealth and investment creation to employment-led growth. Private sector development might also drive innovation and technological development to building essential infrastructure. Furthermore, business and enterprise can also support entrepreneurship, help improve the quality of work and provide much needed increases in labour productivity.

How can sustainable business support, strengthen and champion its impact on women's resilience and wellbeing? In addition, how might governments, in partnership with civil society, provide support to facilitate and influence the development impact of business on women? By examining the transformative effect of business on women's lives, livelihoods and wellbeing, the event series aims to explore a number of key themes including:

  • Female entrepreneurship, employment and agricultural development: Promoting food and nutritional security by improving support to women producers.
  • Bridging the gap between science, technology and innovation for development transformation in Africa: Tackling development dilemmas in agriculture (e.g. food and livestock security) and the environment (e.g. biodiversity and forestry). What works, what doesn't and how can success be appropriately scaled-up and replicated?
  • Women and environmental resource management: Adapting to a changing environment and balancing conservation and consumption in an age of scarcity and uncertainty.

The event series is scheduled to take place 2014-16. Following the roundtable discussion series, the FPC will produce a report (to be launched in 2016/17) which will build on the discussions and insights exchanged during the course of the event series. The report will capture the salient issues discussed and key findings identified. This event forms part of a wider Foreign Policy Centre series entitled: Africa Rising? Building Africa's Productive Capacity for Inclusive Growth. Additional project supporters include Barclays and CDC Group.

Download Summary note 5-Women's economic resilience &social wellbeing (150 kilobyte PDF)