ORAL STATEMENT FROM THE AFRICAN WOMEN’S CAUCUS TO THE 55th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN

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WE, REPRESENTATIVES FROM A WIDE RANGE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS, RESEARCH AND EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS AND NETWORKS IN AFRICA & THE DIASPORA PARTICIPATING IN THE AFRICAN WOMEN’S CAUCUS AT THE 55TH SESSION OF CSW;

RECOGNISE that education and training for girls and women throughout their lifetime is a fundamental human right to which Member States and the United Nations have committed to achieve through various regional and international human rights instruments, decisions and resolution.

ACKNOWLEDGE that majority of African countries have adopted relevant policies and programmes and committed substantive resources to the achievement of basic education for all in the last 10 – 15 years, and this has led to a significant increase in the number of boys and girls accessing education;

NOTE WITH GREAT CONCERN that although gender parity in primary school enrolment has been achieved in many African countries and efforts made to increase access to secondary and tertiary education for girls including undertaking science based training and education, millions of girls still do not have access to quality education due to persistent structural discrimination and gender stereotyping;

ARE DISTURBED that women’s participation in paid labour and access to decent work is limited by the gendered burden of unpaid domestic and care roles, which also contribute to the acute time-poverty that challenges African women and girls on a day to day basis;

WE THEREBY CALL ON African Leaders and Governments to:

  • Implement a holistic approach to education and training for women and girls by integrating into the school curricula practical, relevant and age-appropriate social and technology based survival skills, such as leadership and decision-making, analytical and financial skills, management of intercultural relations and a whole range of skills that support “the do it yourself” culture;
  • Prioritize the implementation of sustainable retention strategies including the provision of comprehensive sexuality education that is rights based and incentives and affirmative actions for girls’ participation and completion of primary, secondary and tertiary education particularly for those pursuing science and technology based training.
  • Enforce zero-tolerance school and community safety programmes to prevent sexual abuse and harassment and all other forms of violence against girls by students, teachers and administrators and ensure that perpetrators are duly apprehended and punished in accordance with the law and where such laws are non- existent take appropriate measures to prioritize their formulation and enactment;
  • Revitalize and commit adequate resources for the implementation of rights-based Compulsory Functional Adult Literacy programmes that include provisions for on-going education and re-training beyond basic literacy and numeracy, which are available in local languages to increase the ease of learning for women and men that miss out on formal education;
  • Improve career guidance schemes to support girls and boys to identify their talents and areas of interest early in life and strengthen mechanisms like scholarship and tutoring programs for girls’ participation in mathematics, science and technology at secondary and tertiary levels;
  • Introduce a component in teacher training colleges on gender-responsive pedagogy both in theory and in practice, to support teachers to be cognizant of the important gender aspect of their work;
  • Take measures to improve the capacity to collect and analyse sex- disaggregated data for tracking women’s share of wage employment in non-agricultural sectors and using the findings address the structural causes that affect women’s access to decent employment and job creation opportunities;
  • Invest in labour saving technologies to address the heavy burden of domestic labour and care work on women and girls and adopt policies that support increased participation of boys and men in domestic and care giving work throughout their lifetime.
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About FEMNET

FEMNET (The African Women's Development and Communication Network) is a pan African, feminist organisation working to advance the rights of women and girls in Africa. FEMNET has carved a niche in Informing and mobilizing African women in order for them to participate and influence policies and processes that affect their lives. FEMNET has hundreds of members in over 40 countries in Africa as well as in the diaspora. It has played a critical role in building the women's movement in Africa since inception in 1988.

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