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ECA mourns the passing of former director and women’s rights champion Margaret Snyder

3 February, 2021

Addis Ababa, 3 February 2021 (ECA) - The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, has expressed profound sadness at the passing of a former ECA director and a stalwart of women’s rights, Margaret C. Snyder. Ms Snyder died on 26 January 2021 after a brief illness. She was 91.

Ms. Snyder began her extraordinary career at the ECA in 1971 where she served as the first director of the African Training and Research Center for Women. Over the years, she worked tirelessly to improve women’s access to resources and economic opportunities across Africa. 

She convinced several international donors to earmark funding for women’s economic empowerment in Africa, which strengthened the ECA’s efforts to deliver transformative programmes. 

“Ms. Snyder was a fearless advocate who dedicated her life to improving the lives of billions of women and girls across the globe,” said Ms Songwe.

Her pioneering efforts included promoting vocational training for women and girls, supporting microcredit for rural women and utilizing data for rights-based economic progress in Africa. In 1978, she left ECA to become the first director of the Voluntary Fund for the UN Decade for Women, and later the founding director of the UN Development Fund for Women (now part of UN Women).

“Her legacy and contributions serve as an inspiration to many as we continue our collective advocacy and action for a fairer, more equal and more resilient future where no one is left behind,” said Ms Songwe.

Ms Snyder’s distinguished career included being an author, an academic, a Fulbright scholar, as well as a member of several expert groups and non-profits.

Her division at the ECA has over the years been renamed the African Centre for Gender and Development, and is now the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, covering gender issues in the context of eradicating poverty and addressing the numerous challenges women face in the social policy arena.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826