The project which is worth $13.2 million is an initiative of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), the East African and Southern Africa Common Market (COMESA), and the Eastern African Community (EAC).
According to the First Lady, the project among other things is aimed at improving women’s ability to access financial and non-financial information; to foster and facilitate peer-to-peer learning; create access to financial opportunities and build networks and establish partnership and relationships with people and structures that can help women across Africa grow and support their respective businesses.
The First Lady said ECOWAS, in collaboration with its community, has always been with Sierra Leone in good and even in bad times such as humanitarian crisis. She added that the launch of the project is therefore a welcome development trajectory.
She assured ECOWAS that the Government of Sierra Leone would commit to the implementation of the initiative to facilitate the empowerment of women and girls through the creation of a platform for networking and information-sharing to improve women’s ability to access financial and non-financial information.
She urged all women in Sierra Leone to be involved in the ‘50 Million Women Project’ and ensured her audience that the platform for women’s entrepreneurs would become the reference point in Africa.
“If we have this opportunity in Sierra Leone, we believe the women in Sierra Leone will most definitely get the opportunity and would use it wisely,” she said.
Vice President of ECOWAS, Finda Koroma, on her part, said she was grateful for the importance Sierra Leoneans attached to the initiative, which she said would provide a significant platform for women to network with other entrepreneurs across the world.
She called on women from all walks of life to join the ECOWAS Commission in the mobilization of resources, both technical and financial that will be needed to make available the necessary data on Sierra Leone to include it in the platform in order to project the country as a place where women and girls can access the requisite information needed to create and finance their businesses.
She said the project was in line with the ECOWAS gender program that is fully aligned with the gender policy of ECOWAS that was adopted in December 2004 by head of states of government.
“This project falls within the framework of Article 15 of Chapter 5 of the Additional Act on Equal Rights for Women and Men for sustainable development in the ECOWAS sub-region in May 2015, which calls on Members States to adopt all legislative and regulatory measures to ensure women’s equal access to all economic and gainful opportunities,” she informed her audience.