Women inclusion, is key to success of the AfCFTA.
Historically, women in Africa have been marginalized, economically, socially and politically.
This has been attributed in most areas to cultural beliefs, where women have been classified as incomparable to men. By such, women have not accessed education, business opportunities, jobs and land as men have. This is testament in areas like scientific research, Engineering fields among others which have predominantly been associated with men. Thus, women have simply been relegated to taking care of homes, children, farms among other areas at the expense of formal education, jobs and capacity building that their men counterparts are exposed to hence exacerbating the gender inequalities.
Therefore, as the AfCFTA takes off, operationalization of affirmative action through women in trade protocols must be given priority, in fact, be made mandatory, to safeguard women inclusion in key business decisions across Africa. To make this a success, and considering that most head of states are men, Women should be included from inception, especially during policy formulation stages of key AfCFTA strategies.
An exclusive policy formulation and later attempt to include women, will create an impression that they are second class citizens who are left to 'scavenge' for the final product, hence will possibly face resistance.
Such inclusions should not only be numerical, but, aimed at at ensuring that the voice of women is heard. By such, they should also be appointed in Key decision making positions. For Instance, if any country is to second delegates, employees, board members among others to the AfCFTA, then 50 percent should be women. This will ensure equal representation from onset.
Considering the past inequalities, most opportunities, capacity building and empowerment should target women to bridge the inequality gaps.
In conclusion, affirmative action is very vital if the AfCFTA intends to realize its objectives across Africa. It is not easy, but very possible, if there's goodwill.