The role African women play in the continent's development is indisputably one of the biggest assets helping move Africa forward. Increasingly, women are taking lead roles in both the political and socio-economic advancement of Africa. One such woman is Dr Frannie Leautier. Our deputy editor, reGina Jane Jere, who is also the editor of our sister-publication, New African Woman, spoke to this truly inspiring and talented woman leading one of Africa's most important organisations--the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). Dr Leautier, from Tanzania, talks about a wide range of issues, not least where women fit into African society and the crucial role they can play.
YOU ARE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE LEADING women in Africa, heading the Africa Capacity Building Foundation, one of Africa's most important institutions. What is 'capacity building' exactly?
Capacity building, let's say from an individual woman's point of view, would be the skills and knowledge that you have available, whether they are to grow particular crops - let's say plantain. One can grow the product, ship part of it, exporting it to the next city or even outside the country. That is one practical example of the capability for which capacity building is needed.
But we also look of course at transforming a policy, transforming the way compensation is done in the public sector, how farmers are paid, the link between growing a crop and exporting it and all the competencies in between, whether people are teachers, nurses, home makers etc, and the link to childcare, all those policies within an economy are linked to the individual capacity to design something that is appropriate for their community.
Where do you place African women at the moment, politically, socially or economically. Everybody talks about Rwanda being the most empowering, in terms of parliamentary seats and their governance stance, but where do you see the position of women in 2012 and the years ahead for that matter?
First of all I think we as women have made a lot of progress. A recent report we launched included a set of indicators that look at gender issues. Many countries have signed up to various initiatives and ratified frameworks to effectively put gender issues at the forefront of policy.
We are seeing different results in terms of implementation. You mentioned Rwanda, which has gone beyond ratification to actually having women in very important positions, the majority of people in parliament are women, but also, see the women in ministerial positions. There's a huge impact seen in Rwanda's private sector, in civil society, and also in the public sector.
Other countries have done well in terms of integrating gender budgeting, because if you don't have gender in the budget, gender priorities don't happen.
We have a number of programmes such as the provision of grants...