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African women's economic summit begins in Nigeria

AFP
13 July 2012 | Nigeria
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.  By Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. By Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)

LAGOS (AFP) - Creating better opportunities for women is key to Africa's economic development, a Nigerian minister said Friday at the opening of a two-day African women's economic summit in Lagos.

"If you invest in women, you are investing in humanity," Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist and a former World Bank managing director, said at the summit's opening.

The meeting was organised by the non-government group New Faces, New Voices, in conjunction with the African Development Bank.

"We are missing a very good opportunity in Africa if we don't invest in women and the girls," Okonjo-Iweala said.

African states need to address high maternal mortality, lack of education, gender inequality and a lack of access to political power if women are to attain economic progress, she said.

"Why is it that every 10 minutes, a woman dies at childbirth? We have to find an answer to this," she said.

Several women chief executive officers, bankers, industrialists and gender activists are expected to deliver speeches at the meeting.

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