Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday praised the key contribution made by women to sustainable development and to rural entrepreneurship in Africa.
"Our shared objective should be to nurture and contribute to the development of mature and sustainable African entrepreneurship by supporting young people and women, who play an especially crucial role in rural economies," Conte said.
"Women are the custodians of the earth and have prime responsibility for the care of future generations," Conte added.
He was addressing the inaugural session of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development's Governing Council meeting, which centres this year on rural innovation and entrepreneurship.
The two-day IFAD meeting is talking place at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.