The US Vice President, Kamala Harris, yesterday announced a $1billion investment fund to advance women’s economic empowerment initiativeson the African continent.
The support, targeting three key areas; information communication technology, finance and healthcare sectors, is expected to afford women entrepreneurs and those in small businesses access to capital and digitilisation, improve healthcare, education and combat gender-based violence on the continent.
Ms Harris made this known at a roundtable meeting with selected women entrepreneurs in Accra yesterday.
“The Bill-Melinda Gates Foundation together with our administration will establish the women in digital economy fund, a $60 million global fund which among others,will address access, affordability, digital literacy and gender inequality.
“In addition, the Gates Foundation is investing an additional $40 million to support these goals. Beyond this, I am also pleased to announce a series of other significant private sector commitments alongside the US government efforts to promote the economic empowerment of women,” she stated.
Vice President Harris noted that the gapping digital divide globally was a major disincentive to women’s economic empowerment and Africa bore the major brunt.
Digital inclusion and services, she stressed, remained essential to “21st century economies” and all efforts must be made to bring women at par in the digital space.
“Women must have the opportunity and access to all that is necessary to achieve their goals, their desire, and their potential to also live so the investments that I have outlined, we believe will help build a future where women are not just treated equally but are able to thrive.
Where women have the opportunity to live and a future simply put, where there will be no barriers for the ability of women to participate in the economy, where they can enjoy freedom from violence and equal access to healthcare and education and where they shatter every glass ceiling,” she stated.
In a bid to track progress on women development, Ms Harris said an Advisory Council has been established at the US Embassy to keep conversations around women economic empowerment going and to uplift women entrepreneurs across the country.
“I know there are many factors that will impact the women’s ability to survive and thrive and one of those factors is women’s economic impact. When we lift up the economic status of women we lift up the economic status of families, communities and almost all society benefit.
I have seen how economic empowerment of women has a direct impact on their health and by extension the health of their families and communities and the economic empowerment of women relates directly to the ability of that person to engage in innovation in a way that makes real the aspirations, the vision and the dream that she naturally has,” the Vice President said.
Vice President Harris, who ended her three-day visit to Ghana yesterday is expected to visit Tanzania and Zambia as part of her African tour.
The visit is borne out of a renewed drive to strengthen US-Africa relations with a focus on economic development, climate change, food security and women and youth empowerment.