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Kenya pledges to break barriers to
women’s economic development   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Wednesday expressed commitment toward breaking barriers that impede women’s economic development.

Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender, said over the past decades, women have been largely excluded from full economic participation which has negatively affected the path of many nations towards prosperity.

“Gender inequality has carried a steep cost. With the intervention of international development organizations and other partners, attention is now focused on pulling women into economic engagement,” Kobia said during the launch of Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) Gender Lens Investment Strategy conference in Nairobi.

“Barriers that hinder women’s participation in development have to be removed if the benefits are to be achieved because in many African countries, women are still subject to legal or customary restrictions in employment, entering into contracts, accessing credit, opening bank accounts, and owning property,” Kobia said.

She said that in order to build future economies that are inclusive, everyone must be given equal opportunity, adding that the centrality of women as critical drivers of development makes it imperative to firmly anchor gender equality and their empowerment and protection of their rights in the changing landscape of international development cooperation.

“This will be attained through strategies of inclusive growth, job creation, increasing agricultural production; investments in science, technology, research and innovation; gender equality, youth empowerment and the provision of basic services such as health, nutrition, education, shelter, water and sanitation,” Kobia said.

The conference, to mark AECF’s 10th anniversary, drew participants from across the continent to discuss the right investments that can help create a climate of resilient economy in Africa.

The development institution, which was launched in 2008, supports businesses to innovate, create jobs, leverage investments and markets in an effort to create resilience and sustainable incomes in rural and marginalized communities in Africa. It has mobilized over 310 million U.S. dollars to date, leveraging more than 580 million dollars in matching capital and has improved the lives of more than 13 million people.

Paul Boateng, AECF Board chairman, said the organization works where others will not venture like investing in emerging, post-conflict and transitioning states to create new markets and funding businesses to scale their operations for underserved and hard-to-reach populations.

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