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AU Chief Seeks Proactive Gender-Responsive To African Infrastructure Growth

African Union (AU) Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid has canvassed the need to integrate gender-responsive approaches in infrastructure planning and implementation for Africa to reach its full potential.

Commissioner Abou-Zeid spoke at the opening of the Gender-Responsive Infrastructure Development Webinar hosted by the African Network for Women in Infrastructure (ANWIN).

She stressed the need to consider gender dimensions in all aspects of infrastructure development cycles, moving beyond gender-neutrality in the field.

According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the deficiencies across the various sectors of infrastructure in Africa.

The AU commissioner noted that only 28 per cent of health facilities in Africa have access to reliable energy, more than 600 million Africans lack electricity and over 900 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are denied of access to clean cooking.

“The impact of the global pandemic worsens the constraints women face, due to the already challenging infrastructure landscape in the continent,” she said, referring to the disproportionate burden African women shoulder due to infrastructure deficits.

The Second Phase of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which will be implemented from 2021-2030, is believed to serve as an enhancer of women empowerment in Africa’s infrastructure endeavours.

“As we embark upon the Second Phase of PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP2), we want to make sure that the sector generates jobs for skilled women professionals, ensure gender-responsive procurement, enhance the participation of women-led enterprises in the supply and value chains, and help women to make the best out of digitalization,” Commissioner Abou-Zeid said.

Aiming at supporting participants in ensuring gender-responsive planning, designing, implementing, monitoring & evaluation of infrastructure projects, the webinar brought together PIDA focal points from African Union Member States (MS), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), ANWIN’s Founding Members, private sector, and civil society among others.

Two ANWIN tools namely, the Gender-Responsive Infrastructure Development (GRID) Guidelines and PIDA Gender-Responsive Infrastructure Policy Brief (GRIPB) were showcased during the two-hour virtual presentation. The GRID Guidelines complement the PIDA implementation by including demand-side gender impacts of infrastructure and provide practical guidance to MS and RECs, while the GRIPB aims to outline the gender-smart infrastructure policy areas that should be considered for dialogue and relevant reforms throughout the Infrastructure development process.

The webinar concluded with a round of questions and comments from the MS & REC participants concerning their respective roles and responsibilities in advancing gender-responsive practices in infrastructure, which highlighted the importance of proactive stakeholders’ engagement to attain the set targets.

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