Africa has noted that despite positive achievements registered recently in decision-making, women, as the largest proportion of our population; remain vulnerable, at-risk and impoverished due to the challenges caused by social, economic, cultural and political marginalisation, gender-based violence and discrimination against women, terrorism, conflict, and fundamentalism.
Africa is committed to resolve and ending violence against women and girls, and improving access to, and control of, finances, land, education, health, information, services, sciences and technology and decision-making in political governance and business enterprises in Agenda 2063 and continental, regional and national Gender Architectures.
Agenda 2063 envisages a non-sexist Africa, an Africa where girls and boys can reach their full potential, where men and women contribute equally to the development of their societies.
The vision of Africa expressed in Agenda 2063 is one of an Africa whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and youth, aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063.
Under this vision, it is envisaged that there will be gender equality in all spheres of life and engaged and empowered youth.
Women are key contributors to global economies and play a critical role in the development of their societies. Without the equal and effective participation of women in all spheres of socio-political and economic life, the vision of agenda 2063 might not be realised.
“Agenda 2063 would see fully empowered women with equal access and opportunity in all spheres of life. This means that the African woman would have equal economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register and manage a business.”
By 2063, all forms of violence and discrimination (social, economic, political) against women and girls would have been eliminated and they would fully enjoy all their human rights. This means an end to all harmful social practices and that all barriers to access to quality health and education for women and girls would be non-existent.
In addition, Agenda 2063 would see fully empowered women with equal access and opportunity in all spheres of life. This means that the African woman would have equal economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register and manage a business. Over 90 per cent of rural women would have access to productive assets, including land, credit, inputs and financial services.
Agenda 2063 promotes the attainment of full gender parity with women occupying 50 percent of elected offices at state, regional and local bodies, and 50 percent of managerial positions in government and private sector. The economic and political glass ceiling hindering women’s progress would finally have been broken.
Gender Equality and Agenda 2063
“As the continent moves onto achieving its goals for Agenda 2063, it will be important to monitor how targets and indicators for gender equality will evolve.”
As the blueprint and master plan for Africa we want for the future, Agenda 2063 puts gender equality at the forefront of the continent’s vision.
Among the 7 Aspirations outlined in the Agenda, Aspiration 6 and its related Goal 17 specifically focus on achieving full gender equality to enable a people-driven development for Africa.
To this end, Agenda 2063 identifies two main priority areas: women’s and girls’ empowerment; and violence and discrimination against women and girls. Because of this large timeframe, mechanisms have been put in place to ensure adequate tracking and monitoring of the progress being made by the continent as a whole.
Consequently, five ten-year plans were established to ensure accountability and transparency. As outlined in the First Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063, for these initial 10 years (2013-2023), Goal 17 has been further divided into indicators and targets that encourage measurable results.
For the scope of women’s and girls’ empowerment, this decade is focused on economic rights, and political participation and representation.
On the other hand, under violence and discrimination against women and girls, efforts are concentrated on reducing levels of gender-based violence; reducing all harmful social norms and customary practices; and eliminating barriers to quality education, health and social services.
As the continent moves on to achieve its goals for Agenda 2063, it will be important to monitor how targets and indicators for gender equality will evolve.
AU’s Gender Architecture and regional commitments for gender equality and their application
In 2000, the African Union established its Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD), now Women, Gender and Youth Directorate (WGYD), to promote and mainstream gender equality within and throughout the Union and its Member States.
The Directorate effectively became the Union’s main organ for leading, guiding, defending and coordinating the efforts on gender equality and development as well as promoting women’s empowerment across the continent.
By working with other departments and organs within the Union, the WGDD has designed programmes and delivered projects based on the policies and frameworks adopted by the Member States.
These include the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa signed in 2004 which is a reporting framework on gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) and reaffirms the Member States’ commitment to gender equality as enshrined in Article 4 (1) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union; and the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), which provides a legal framework for ensuring civil and political, economic, social and cultural as well as environmental rights for all African women.
These two frameworks have paved the way for other important regional commitments such as the inclusion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Agenda 2063 and the development of the 2018-2028 African Union Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which supports the work of the Agenda as well as gender mainstreaming within the Union.
The newly developed Gender Strategy is premised on the 2009 African Union Gender Policy which provided the policy framework on GEWE.
Rationale and benefits for gender mainstreaming in the African Union
Gender mainstreaming in the African Union is essential for a truly inclusive Africa where the voices and concerns of its 600 million women and girls, which represent about half of the population on the continent, are heard and welcomed at the decision-making tables.
Gender equality has been and continues to be important to the AU not just because it is part of its Constitutive Act but also because it is a fundamental human right that is integral to the continent’s economic growth and social development as a whole.
As the leader and representative of a united Africa, the Union has the responsibility to add a gendered dimension to its work and activities.
“The benefits of gender mainstreaming will be felt across different sectors as women’s potential is unlocked and their contributions encouraged, while investments in the future of African girls are made.”
Indeed, increased gender equality encouraged through quality education, health care, and employment has positive ripple effects on communities from the local to the intracontinental level.
When women can support and invest in themselves thanks to policies and legislations that ensure gender equality in the different spheres of life, families and economies prosper.
However, the economic advantage of gender equality is not the only reason why this plea is important to the AU.
In the spirit of Agenda 2063, attaining women’s empowerment is a key factor in creating a prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The benefits of gender mainstreaming will be felt across different sectors as women’s potential is unlocked and their contributions encouraged, while investments in the future of African girls are made.
Examples of the advantages derived from gender mainstreaming include ensuring economic security and empowerment for women which is often translated into better financial security for families and consequently more economic stability for countries; guaranteeing equal access to services such as education and health care which are key for the social and economic development of peoples and nations.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, it offers an idea of the power that gender mainstreaming has to achieve gender equality and how the benefits of these do not only pertain to women and girls but have positive ripple effects on entire families and economies.
The African Union Commission Women, Gender and Youth Directorate is responsible for leading, guiding, defending and coordinating the AU’s efforts on gender equality and development and promoting women and youth empowerment.