In an unprecedented move this week, President Obama played host to nearly 50 leaders from Africa -- a continent which is home to six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, according to the Washington Post.
Analysts claim the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which took place in Washington, D.C., from Monday through Wednesday, was an important step by the president to prioritize relations with an increasingly influential region, as Reuters reported. But among talks of GDPs and business bottom lines, another vital angle of development was on the agenda: Human progress.
Here are six issues brought into the spotlight as a result of the summit this week, reminding the world that things are improving for the people of Africa.
1. The expansion of democracy.
In a panel held Monday at the summit discussing African civil society, Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed the United States' support in helping African nations prioritize democracy and the "empowerment of people through their government," Voice of America reported. In a meeting last March with Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (seen above right) and former Malawian President Joyce Banda (left), among others, President Obama voiced his approval of the democratic progress he'd witnessed in many regions of the continent.
2. Fighting against child marriage.
"Child marriage is a complex human rights issue," Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch said Tuesday at a U.N. Foundation's summit on the issue, TIME reported. The forum, hosted by the International Center for Research on Women, was a sideline event during the U.S.-Africa summit, drawing attention to the human rights abuse that disproportionately affects young African girls. In recent years, international attention and grassroots efforts have worked to end the practice.
"As we watch the rates of child marriage decline, we can expect to see more girls in school for a longer time, more girls accessing health and protection services, less violence against women and girls, more qualified women participating in the labor force," Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF deputy executive director, said in Ethiopia in May.
3. Combating poverty.
In an annual newsletter written by Bill Gates earlier this year on behalf of his foundation, the billionaire philanthropist noted income has climbed by two-thirds since 1998 in Africa and more and more nations are "turning toward strong sustained development." Countries like Nigeria -- where the above photo was taken in an ice cream parlor -- have experienced significant middle class expansion in recent years.
4. Investing in health.
5. Empowering women leaders.
In Rwanda, 64 percent of the country's parliamentary seats are held by women (the world's highest proportion), and gender rights have become staples in the state's constitution, the Guardian reported.
6. Battling climate change for food security.