African women will not relent until the “Beijing” Commitments are fully achieved
Addis Ababa 1st November 2019 – Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a must, and women of Africa are not going to settle for less! African women through the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and civil society organizations meeting in Addis Ababa this week (28th -31st October) want the African Union to mark the year 2020 with substantive focus on gender equality and women’s rights.
This is just but a bare minimum of critical demands the convening is bound to make.
Twenty five years after the pivotal global women’s conference the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA), women across the world are once again agitating for the African continent to move towards achieving gender equality with renewed zeal and determination.
“We are here to tell the African Union and the United Nations as well as the whole world that the empty rhetoric of making huge promises without delivering them is gone” said Ms. Emma Kaliya, the Chairperson of the FEMNET Board of Directors while addressing the Addis Ababa Meeting.
“Even though this Conference (meeting in Addis) is a review and a prelude to the celebration that will be held next year, Civil Society Organizations need to re-ignite country level activism in order to demand greater gender responsiveness, respect for human rights, transparency and accountability from their governments” She added.
Memory Kachambwa – FEMNET Executive Director
At a CSO Forum coordinated by FEMNET and supported by a pool of partners, civil society from across the continent are convening in their multitudes and echoing their voices and claiming spaces for women’s rights and civil society organizations, collaborating with governments and bilateral partners to take a critical look at the status of gender equality for women in Africa since the BDPfA.
As the review of the 25 years of BDPfA, African women in their own right and diversity at the gathering declared that this time round, they are not taking anything like “No” for an answer.
“Women have fought and worked towards gender equality for far too long. Twenty Five years later, we should not be asking for and pushing for the same issues we were fighting for back in 1995. We should instead be celebrating gains made to bridge the gender gap not still lament on what should have been achieved by now” said Maria Wanza, a women’s rights delegate attending the conference.
Gender equality and women’s rights is a right and not a privilege. African member states therefore have no choice but to fully commit to the implementation of the recommendations agreed upon in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995.
FEMNET’s Executive Director Ms. Memory Kachambwa while addressing the Specialized Technical Committee at the summit reiterated the need for governments to accelerate the implementation of the various laws, policies and frameworks that have been adopted to address the discrimination of women and gender inequalities.
“We are calling for AU member states to work towards achieving the 50:50 gender parity representation requirements that they have committed to in the AU gender policy.” She said while reading out the CSO Statement to the assembly.
While highlighting various gaps and challenges that still hinder the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, Ms. Kachambwa highlighted the urgent need for the AU to end conflicts in Africa out of amongst other devastating impacts, the fact that women and children suffer the most during conflict.
“We call for an end to armed conflict. We urge states to ensure peace & security & the participation of women in all peace & security processes. It is not enough to acknowledge that women are suffering, it is imperative that women form part of the decision-making process to ending conflict. In this, way, their specific needs and issues will be efficiently addressed” She said.
African women have been at the forefront of influencing and contributing to the global agenda for women’s rights. The 3rd World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985 resulted in the adoption of “Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women”, which offered a practical and effective guide for global action for promoting greater equality and opportunity for women. The 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 chaired by prominent African women, including Mrs. Gertrude Mongela, who alongside other African women, ensured that the globally adopted Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s (BDPfA) framework and its 12 Critical Areas of Concern reflected a number of priorities for African women and girls. Indeed, the BDPfA has been described as a progressive policy framework and blueprint for advancing gender equality and women’s rights – notwithstanding, emerging priorities and issues beyond the 12 critical areas of concern.
Read more: FEMNET