Kamala Harris focuses on women’s economic inclusion and leadership on final day in Ghana
March 29, 2023
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ACCRA, Ghana – Vice President Kamala Harris concluded a three-day state visit to Ghana on Wednesday, hosting a roundtable focused on the economic empowerment of women in the country and underlining her administration’s commitment to the issue more broadly on the African continent .
Harris met five Ghanaian women entrepreneurs in sectors including medicine, farming, climate, economics and culture in The Mix Design Hub, a female-owned restaurant, gallery and coworking space. It coincides with the announcement of commitments of nearly $1 billion in public and private funding to help bridge the gender gap in access to the Internet in Africa and help women advance their participation in the economy.
“The investments I’ve outlined are what I believe will help build a future where women are not only treated equally but are able to thrive, where women opportunity to lead, and a future where there are no barriers to the ability for women to participate in the economy, where they can enjoy freedom from violence and equal access to health care and education, and where they shatter every glass ceiling,” Harris said Wednesday.
Several Black women business leaders nodded their heads in agreement and smiled Wednesday morning as Harris again stressed the importance of not only women’s inclusion, but also their empowerment and their leadership for progress in Ghana, the African continent and around the world Insisted.
“The focus here is on both: inclusion and leadership, understanding that women must have opportunities and access to whatever is needed to achieve their goals, their desires, their potential,” Harris said. .
Harris said the administration is working to measure the impact of its investments and that she “believes a lot in metrics.”
“I believe the window is definitely open now, and I believe the window will remain open based on what we do now,” she said. “But it will be a function of the investments we start now to build the momentum needed to bring this approach to bear.”
Harris’s mission on this trip also includes diplomacy, after the previous administration did not engage extensively with Africa, with former President Donald Trump referring to some countries as “loose countries”.
Jennifer Hart, associate professor of history at Wayne State University, said the administration’s tone has changed in recent years, but policy commitments will tell the story of whether there has been a real change in relations between the United States and Africa.
“The US controls a lot of global economic policy, and this has enormous implications for African countries and the individuals who live in them,” Hart said.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Harris linked women’s equality to democracy and security.
Harris said, “When you create a system where the rule of law is important, equal rights are upheld and protected.” “You will see greater empowerment of everyone, including women, especially if they have been left behind or you see extreme inequalities. So there is a connection there and we will continue to work on it knowing that they are linked.
Hart said that too often the United States and other wealthy countries take “a kind of neo-colonial approach” to Africa and that the administration needs to be thoughtful about what that investment looks like, especially with respect to women.
“These people are doing amazing things; They just need people to get out of their way,” Hart said. “They need access to resources and they need to be heard, they need to be seen as equals in a meaningful way. They need to level the playing field a lot more level than it does right now, as a recognition from the United States of America. Needs to be, it’s not level, it hasn’t been level for two centuries.
Ghana is the first of three countries Harris, the first woman and African-American vice president, will visit on her historic first trip to the continent as the most powerful black woman in American politics. She will also travel to Tanzania and Zambia, with a continued focus on gender equality, digital inclusion and democracy.
While in Ghana, Harris announced a proposed $100 billion in aid to help address threats of violent extremism and instability in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo; delivered a keynote address on US-Africa relations; and laid a wreath at Cape Coast Castle, a fort that was the last stop for millions of Africans during the slave trade.