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Written by Michele Otiato

It was the culmination of the GIMAC Young Women platform's five years of effective advocacy for the Maputo Protocol. In the context of the AfCFTA, the gathering aimed to coordinate efforts and capitalize on successes in increasing gender equality and women's economic empowerment.on this day there were 4 agenda to be brought up which were, human rights challenges in the AfCFTA implementation, gender responsive trade in services, progress and action points on creation, launch of the Maputo protocol in the context of the AfCFTA development. The event brought together various stakeholders, including GIMAC network members , AU organs and institutions , RECs, UN agencies, development partners and the private sector.

Some of the main problems that were brought up as obstacles that young women and youth were confronting i.e

  1. Due to insufficient collateral and absence of any, young people are still unable to borrow money from banks.

  2. Due to the numerous restrictions on some documents, including passports, they are unable to move freely.

  3. Women are subjected to sexual exploitation in the borders, which discourages other women from opening enterprises there, according to the health cluster.

  4. Retrenchment of democracy that poses a harm to human life

  5. countries with violent conflicts, like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which result in human rights abuses.

Recommendations of each cluster of the discussion from health to education were enlisted;

  • For the acceleration of AFCTA, African Governments, especially RECs need to develop, resource, implement and strengthen policies around TVET which are key skill sets for trade. There’s a need for a change of mindset around TVET from “alternate courses' ' which give a connotation of failure for those that pursue them.

  • AfCFTA should be integrated in the African countries’ curriculum, which should also be reviewed to respond to the needs of the African market. The curriculum should take into account current realities such as technology that allow for packaging of information through mediums such as podcast, documentaries which are popular with the youth who make up the largest of the African population.

  • Africa needs to adopt a harmonized framework for the recognition of education certificates. This will allow for the free movement and recognition of skill set across countries as compare to requiring young people to then write more exams to convert qualifications

  • Governments should reduce the cost of passports which are a prerequisite for cross border trade as some women may not have financial resources to get passports, which will result in exclusion of women in trade.

As the event's final day, it concluded with an awards ceremony to introduce the Maputo protocol in the context of the advancement of the AfCFTA. Over the course of the three-day event, viewpoints were exchanged, personal experiences were shared, and best practices and ideas were identified among GIMAC network members and other stakeholders. This was evidence of the involvement and interactive approach that encouraged beneficial dialogues.Lastly, there was a gender balance among the speakers, moderators, participants, and facilitators from all around Africa.

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