Women's History Month: Expand Educational Opportunities for African Women to "Make It Happen"

03/09/2015 01:44 pm ET | Updated May 09, 2015

For Women's History Month, people around the globe will celebrate the achievements of women for the month-long observance.

This year's theme for International Women's Day on March 8 was "Make It Happen". The theme focused on encouraging effective action for expanding opportunities and advancing equality for women and girls.

Yet, we all know that "make it happen" has always been the mantra for African women.

Despite the tremendous challenges in their midst, African women are overcoming barriers to become powerful drivers of economic development. Today, women's entrepreneurship in Africa is at nearly 40 percent, the highest compared to other regions of the world.

In Africa, 80% of the agricultural production comes from small farmers, who are mostly rural women.

Research shows that enhancing women's economic participation fuels national economies and bolsters development progress. Indeed, women's participation in economic life creates a multiplier effect. Women entrepreneurs typically reinvest in their families and local communities to foster greater economic growth.

African women are largely concentrated in the informal, micro-enterprise sector. Investing in women through higher education and advanced professional training is smart business and will help build management skills and inspire innovation for women entrepreneurs to propel their businesses to the next level.

Since our founding in 1953, AAI has recognized the enormous potential of women and is committed to providing advanced education and practical training opportunities to further their education and professional growth.

Through the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), known as TLP, AAI offers non-degree professional certificate and business degree training for African managers of small- and medium-sized enterprises and Africa-based nongovernmental organizations. Of our 300 TLP alumni, more than 60 percent are dynamic women working in a wide range of sectors and communities.

African women entrepreneurship is the highest in the world.

Expanding access to higher education and advanced training for both women and men is necessary to equip African professionals with the skills to meet local and global market demands.

AAI is launching the AAI Future Leaders Legacy Fund to give academically motivated, yet under-resourced students, an opportunity to earn a bachelors degree or vocational and technical training certifications at top African universities and technical colleges.

With better access to educational opportunities, the Legacy Fund will allow more bright African students to take part and contribute to the rapid transformation and growth across the African continent.

Let's collectively work together to accelerate efforts to do our part to ensure that everyone has an opportunity and access to "make it happen".