Africa’s free trade area can benefit women equally through targeted measures, says UNECA director

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Targeted measures are needed to ensure opportunities arising from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) benefit women and men equally across the region.
Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), made this plea to African countries at a roundtable on ‘human capital: culture and heritage’, hosted during the 2021 Africa Dialogue Series.
She said trade alone cannot change the fact women, who although play a significant role in Africa’s economy, remain underpaid and underemployed compared to men.
Beyond the inherit economic disadvantage, Ruzvidzo added that women remain vulnerable to high levies, bribes, harassment, confiscation of goods and violence, especially in Africa’s informal cross-border trade where they make up 70 per cent of merchants.