Source: Seychelles News Agency
The Seychelles President James Michel has stressed the importance of active participation of women towards achieving economic development in Africa.
Michel made the statement when addressing his African counterparts and other delegates gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Sunday for the 25th African Union summit.
More than 50 African Heads of State and Heads of Government converged to South Africa over the weekend for the summit, which ends today.
"My delegation comes here with a simple message. Women will change Africa. Women will make Africa better," said Michel in his statement published by State House this afternoon.
For this to happen the Seychellois Head of State said that barriers need to be removed so that women can be empowered to bring about change in their societies.
Child marriage and other cultural practices that are "detrimental to women development" are some of the examples cited while he stressed the importance for them to have access to education and healthcare.
"...I am proud to say that in Seychelles, the women empowerment story is a success story. Seychelles has built itself on people-centred development and gender equality is a cornerstone of this philosophy. We cannot have people-centred development if half of the people are discriminated against in any form," said Michel.
"With access to education and maternal health care, women have transformed the economic landscape in Seychelles. Beyond the political spheres, where we have strong female representation in our national assembly, we have over 50% of female students in our university, we have women leading the workforce in management positions, and growing in numbers in non-traditional sectors such as our maritime and defence forces, as well as IT and computer sciences, and, when given access to affordable loans, women are demonstrating their entrepreneurship with new and varied enterprises."
Delegates gathered at the African union summit pose for a group photo. Photo License: CC-BY-NC
Michel also addressed the African Union's Agenda 2063 saying Seychelles welcomes the first Ten-Year Plan to achieve this global and inclusive African strategy which implies using resources on the continent for the benefit of all Africans within the next 50 years.
He commended the AU for including the key priorities of the African Island States as well the increased participation of women as key areas as part of the Agenda 2063, which include emphasis on the development of the Blue Economy, the fight against climate change, the growth and development of tourism, and maritime connectivity sectors as drivers for change and growth
With regards to financing, particularly for marine projects, Michel proposed the inclusion of the debt swap mechanism as a funding model in the first Ten – Year Implementation Plan.
Seychelles recently achieved a 'historic debt swap deal' with the Paris Club which has freed up $ 30 million its debt to be used to protect its vast marine space.
"This landmark financing innovation can provide other African Island States and other African countries with a tested model of sustainable financing for development driven initiatives," said Michel.
When he talked about peace and security particularly maritime security which he described as essential to the development and inclusive growth of Africa the President reiterated Seychelles commitment to continue participating in regional efforts to ensure peace and security in the region.