German Chancellor supports World Bank’s action plan
20/05/2007 – by D+C | E+Z
In the 1990s, African women carried more loads on their heads than all the vehicles on the continent put together. However, another World Bank statistic reveals that the women there are only paid one percent of the volume of all agricultural loans. Globally, the female labour force earns only 75% of what men receive and they have fewer education and employment opportunities.
German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul regards these conditions as “economically unwise”. Obviously women’s potential is not given a proper chance. Therefore, she supports the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan, which came into being at the suggestion of Germany and Norway.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she also supports “the implementation of the plan” – particularly in her roles as G8 hostess and President of the EU Council. At a symposium organised by InWEnt and the Development Ministry at the end of February in Berlin, she admitted there are still shortcomings in Germany too. For example, 40% of the women with a higher-education degree remain childless. The Chancellor declared herself in favour of all parents having the choice as to whether they want to place their children in childcare during the day or look after them themselves. However, this assumes that there are sufficient places in childcare facilities, which is not the case in Western Germany.
From Merkel’s point of view, examples such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh prove that women in developing countries can manage money well – provided they get the opportunity to do so. It is not only access to resources that is important but also rights and freedoms. Men’s understanding of their own roles also needs to change. Europe will attentively support its “neighbouring continent” Africa, says Merkel, but Africa’s engagement is also necessary.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, welcomes donor involvement. However, she also stressed in Berlin that the responsibility for African living conditions lies with Africa itself. (dem)
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