The significant role that women play in Africa’s economic development began to get attention in the early 1970s. An African Training and Research Centre for Women was established in the Office of the Executive Secretary for Africa (UNECA) as the regional focal point for Women in Development in 1975. This coincided with the United Nation`s Declaration of 1975-1985 as the decade for women. The Declaration directed member Nations to pursue vigorously the integration of Women in all facets of human endeavour. Just before the close of the decade a meeting was held at Arusha, Tanzania under the auspices of the OAU. The Arusha meeting examined issues pertaining to Women advancement beyond the decade. In 1995, a 3rd World Conference for Women was held in Nairobi Kenya. At that meeting “Forward looking Strategies” for the advancement of Women were adopted by United Nation’s Member Nations. On the African Continent, this was followed by another conference in Abuja in 1989 under the auspices of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The outcome of the meeting tagged “Abuja Declaration on Participatory Development of Women” was adopted by Member African States. The Declaration advocates that Women be integrated and be allowed to participate in Development Programmes.
In response to above recommendations, the Economic Commission of Africa ECA Conference of Ministers on Women adopted Resolution 736 (xxvii) passed to it by the Africa Regional Coordinating Committee. In adopting the resolution which is “Women and their access to resources in the 1990s’, the ECA Conference of Ministers requested UNECA to facilitate the creation of a Federation of Africa’s Women Entrepreneurs. The African Training and Research Centre for women, which is in the office of the Executive Secretary of the UNECA, put in place in the machinery for the formation of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) which is to enhance the promotion of the economic activities of Women from that of mere income generation to the formal economic sector where Women will make substantial contribution to National taxes and offer employment and other support services, this way the full potentials and energies of African Women can be harnessed and challenged towards National Development for their various Countries through Trade, Commerce and Manufacturing.
To facilitate the formation of the Federation of Africa Women Entrepreneurs, Member Nations of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) were directed to form strong National Associations of Women Entrepreneurs. This body will at the National level promote entrepreneurial activities of Women and strive to transform it from the informal to the formal sector of the Nation’s economy. The National Associations of Member States will now come together to form a Federation of Africa women Entrepreneurs.
Nigeria, through the National Commission for Women which was the Government’s organ responsible for the Integration of Women into National Development activities, had the responsibility of forming the Nigerian Association of Women Entrepreneurs. The National Commission for Women wasted no time and their efforts saw the inauguration of the Nigerian Association of Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE) on the 29th April, 1993).
On the 3rd June, 1993, the Nigeria Association of Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE) participated in the inaugural meeting of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) where Nigeria was elected the President for a two year renewable term.
All countries of the world came together to form the International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs with Indonesia at the first President.