On 20 January 2020, the UK hosted the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London. Commenting on what key announcements mean for gender equality and poverty alleviation, Rachel Noble, Senior Policy Specialist on Women’s Economic Rights at ActionAid UK, said:
“It speaks volumes that African women’s rights organisations were not invited to the summit. As might be expected, discussions were dominated by big business but it was disappointing to see so little space at the table for those wanting to address the implications of trade and investment on poverty alleviation and gender equality — particularly given so much of the conference was funded by UK aid.
“Whilst it was welcome to see new investment in women entrepreneurs, crucial action on how to prevent trade and investment disempowering African women and girls living in poverty was absent. Trade is indeed important for women but badly designed deals can result in the violation of women’s rights as well as low paid, unsafe and insecure jobs. Instead, trade needs to create decent jobs for women and provide more access to public services — which would reduce the huge issue of women’s unpaid care work.
“At a time when the UK is setting out its new position on the global stage, the summit played an important role initiating new relationships with African counties. However as these trading relationships develop, the UK government and corporations must listen to women’s rights organisations and base agreements on how they will likely impact those living in poverty – especially women and girls. Only then will we truly realise a gender-just approach to trade which does not risk pushing many African women and girls further into poverty.”