Africa has considerable unexploited potential in the hidden growth reserves of its women. However, women continue to face inequality in areas of rights, access to services and social development, economic opportunity and political empowerment. Women farmers receive only 1 per cent of agricultural credit and own less than 1% of Africa's land, often through insecure property rights. Only 51% of women over 15 are able to read and write, compared to 67% of men, while a pregnant women is 180 times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than her European counterpart.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW, 1979) stands as the most important and comprehensive international treaty promoting women's rights and gender equality which legally bind states that have ratified or acceded to the Convention to take measures to end discrimination and submit national reports of progress. Adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) commitment governments to work towards implementing the strategies agreed on in Nairobi in1985, and to mobilize resources to achieve a series of specific goals, most notably, to initiate gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) urges Member States to ensure increased representation of women in institutions and mechanisms for theprevention, management, and resolution of conflict. Principles of gender equality and empowerment are also promoted in the Monterrey Consensus and Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness, key instruments in directing international aid mechanisms.
G8Leaders have made a series of commitments in support of African efforts to promote gender equality and women's empowerment. Commitments made in the 2002 Kananaskis G8 Africa Action Plan, for example, focused on land and property rights and the mainstreaming of gender into agriculture, while Heiligendamm's 2006 Growth and Responsibility in Africa Declaration committed leaders to direct greater HIV/AIDS resources towards women and children.
The AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, adopted in 2003 as a supplementary protocol to the The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, presents a bill of rights for women, with a particular focus on economic rights, and obligates states to take affirmative action. The Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004) develops this further, and commits Heads of State and Government to report annually on progress towards gender equality. Additionally, declarations have also been made at the regional level, including the 1997 SADC (Southern African Development Community) declaration on Gender and Development (and subsequent Addendum for Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children), and the 2001 ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) declaration on the fight against trafficking in persons.
 APF 2007 Genderand Economic Development in Africa. Presented at the 8th Meeting ofthe AfricaPartnership Forum Berlin, Germany 22-23 May 2007