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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world


Investing in women's economic resilience & social wellbeing: Rethinking the role of private sector development in Africa

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supported by Nestlé

Part of the 'Africa Rising? Building Africa's Productive Capacity for Inclusive Growth' series

This series of roundtable discussions - supported by Nestlé - are 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). COP21 aims to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels) however, has yet to provide the commitments needed to achieve this aspiration. In addition, the UN Commission on the Status of Women will mark its 60th anniversary (CSW60) in 2016. Its priority focus will be women's empowerment and sustainable development. The level of global inequality and insecurity disproportionately affecting women and girls continues to be compounded by an unprecedented global economic crisis, on-going austerity and 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 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 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 across in 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.

Should you have any queries about this event series, please feel free to contact the FPC on

Download the roundtable summary notes here:

Roundtable 1: An overview: understanding the development impact of business in supporting women to build their productive capacity, resilience and social wellbeing summary notes

Roundtable 2: Female entrepreneurship, employment and agricultural development through improving support to women producers summary notes

Roundtable 3: Women and natural resource management: How best women can be supported to adapt to a changing natural environment

Roundtable 4: Empowering women and girls: Bridging the gap between science, technology and innovation (STI) for development transformation across Africa

Roundtable 5: Supporting innovation to promote food and nutritional security across Africa