Women in Russian–African Relations: Gender Balance in Politics, the Economy and the Social Sector

KEY CONCLUSIONS

A greater role for women in the society is a priority for the modern global development

“Egypt has a 2030 strategy for women, launched in 2016. When we started it, we included it as the foundation of our vision for Egypt’s development. It focuses on gender balance. If you do not pay attention to the female part of society, you will not be able to build a successful society,” H.E. Hala Helmy Elsaid Younes, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

“The Gender Equality Agenda is the fifth Sustainable Development Goal adopted by the UN General Assembly for the period until 2030. UNIDO gender agenda is very important and builds on the development of women's economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and leadership,” Veronika Peshkova, President, Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy Women’s Perspective; Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

African countries contribute to resolving gender inequality problems

“In Rwanda, 50% of government members and 62% of MPs are women. It took time and a legislative change to achieve these results,” Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Rwanda.

“The new constitution now requires that 25% of MPs must be women. We support women in all areas. 25% of the ministers in Egypt are female. This number is actually higher, thanks to a great number of women involved in the projects that these ministers oversee,” H.E. Hala Helmy Elsaid Younes, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

“Women in Africa are part of politics – they are politicians and leaders. They are involved in all spheres of the economy,” Amany Asfour, President, International Federation of Business & Professional Women.

“Over the last 5 years – 10 maximum – the African continent has made a huge leap forward in harnessing opportunities for women's political, economic, social and entrepreneurial engagement,” Nataliya Zaiser, Chair of the Board, Africa Business Initiative Union.

PROBLEMS

Poor development of social infrastructure hinders women’s full-fledged economic activity

“In order to enable women’s work, it is necessary to develop the institutional environment – an ecosystem that will support them. We are engaged in the development of kindergartens and services that will allow them to devote their time to economic activity rather than stay at home,” H.E. Hala Helmy Elsaid Younes, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

“70% of Africa’s women are involved in the informal segments of the economy. Women who are not part of the system need to be remembered, and they need to be able to access the system and understand what programmes we can give them. You have to understand that even though they are uneducated, they are also part of the industry, they work in mining, in actual mines, and not always in a safe environment. We have to think about ensuring their safety,” Tiguidanke Camara, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Tigui Mining Group (TMG).

“We would like to help vulnerable women to gain both financial and political independence. We are implementing programmes to help them start their own businesses and access financing, which went up from 15 to 27%. <...> Women run 50% of micro-companies,” H.E. Hala Helmy Elsaid Younes, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

SOLUTIONS

Improving women’s access to education

“Russia has a great experience of supporting educational programmes in Africa, when Russia offers scholarships, and here we raise the question of improving our relations further,” Amany Asfour, President, International Federation of Business & Professional Women.

“The changes in the education system have led to the situation when girls can study for free and parents no longer have to choose who of their children to send to school based on their financial muscle. Access to education means more and more women in science and engineering,” Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Rwanda.

“In my organization – the TMG Foundation – we educate women and teach them how to become part of society, independent entrepreneurs. As a rule, these are agriculture-related industries. We organize investment aid, launch projects that create local jobs, provide seeds and materials, and teach how to sell the results of their work,” Tiguidanke Camara, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Tigui Mining Group (TMG).

Involving digital and creative technologies

“We are now launching a digital skills training programme for female entrepreneurs. We view the digital agenda as a crucial development tool. We live in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, when the so-called creative industries are the fastest growing. They are faster than the global economy on average. These are segments that still involve a very large number of women, but will remain employers when regular office work, sales and services will get automated – that is something we are moving towards. Today, creative industries contribute to the global economy more than the Indian economy and provide more jobs than the automotive industry in Western Europe, the United States and Japan combined,” Veronika Peshkova, President, Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy Women’s Perspective; Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

“We support creative industries – it is the foundation of the post-industrial economy, that is why developing them is the main challenge not just for Russia, but for the whole world as well,” Valeria Valyaeva, high school student; Member, Agency of Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects, Leader of a Creative Area. 

International cooperation and using best practices

“We must unite our efforts and come to cooperation through mutually beneficial partnership. If someone can help us properly, with respect to our traditions and principles, we will achieve great results,” Slauzy Zodwa Mogami, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Chairperson, Ladies in the Frontline.

To participants in the Russia–Africa Economic Forum

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the opening of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

The rich history of relations between Africa and Russia has never seen an event of a similar scale. Members of government agencies and business community, and experts are meeting at this Forum to substantively discuss the current status and prospects of cooperation and a wide range of topical issues of the world economy.

Today, the countries of Africa are well on their way towards social, economic, scientific and technological development, and are playing a significant role in international affairs. They are strengthening mutually beneficial integration processes within the African Union and other regional and sub regional organizations across the continent.

In recent years, the traditionally friendly ties of partnership between Russia and Africa have gained new momentum, both at a bilateral level and in various multilateral formats. In addition to preserving our past experience of successful cooperation, we have also managed to make significant new steps forward. Trade and investment are growing dynamically, and new joint projects are under way in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education. Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructures.

I hope that the Forum will help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives that will bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples.

I wish the Forum’s participants fruitful work and all the best.

Vladimir Putin

The Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the Summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian–African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres. Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the African people and their friends in Russia.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Abdelfattah ALSISI