By Ms Tafadzwa Muropa*
The Third International Conference on Financing for Developmet (FfD3) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13-16th July 2015 was aimed at bringing multi stakeholders towards finding lasting solutions on how to effectively finance sustainable development initiatives. Government representatives, private sector entities, civil society activists just to mention a few, had held prior sectoral and continental meetings in order to consolidate their positions which were to be negotiated in the final Addis Action Document.
As a member of FEMNET, I participated in the Global Women’s Forum and Global CSO Forum from the 10th-12th of July 2015, in Addis Ababa in order to consolidate the women’s position and CSO position before the official FFD conference was to be held. It was important to note that within the Global Women’s Forum, I was able to participate in the African women’s caucus group so as to enhance the African women’s position which was to be included in the global Women’s Forum position. My participation at the Global CSO Forum was also aimed at strengthening the African women’s voice in the final outcome document. One thing I realised was that there were common struggles and common effects of economic liberalization on women and children across the conference room, based on the testimonies from participants around the world who had come to attend the Women’s and CSO Forums. In sharing that common struggle, the realisation that building common sustainable alternatives to the existing global economic order was much stronger than before.
This was much easier said than done, however! Within the global civil society family, there is always the need to give and take. Realities around race, gender and power became so obvious but not to derail the entire process. Ultimately, the final CSO outcome document spelt out the non negotiable key asks that needed to be presented to the negotiators and member states so as to ensure that the outcome document truly embraced ordinary people’s realities including those of women and children.
My participation at the official UN FFD3 processes was an eye opener taking into account the dynamics of registration, participation in various side events, engagement with government officials and networking. In such platforms, civil society had the moral obligation of reminding the political elite and the private sector that in as much as financing for development is good for business, at the end of the day, human rights of all people concerned, especially the marginalised groups, needed to be at the centre stage of discussions and in turn, the outcome document. Knowing that the art of negotiation is an art of war, literally, but also not everyone will be happy with the outcome of the negotiations, as noted in the final document that was agreed upon. For instance, women’s rights were not highly articulated. This experience was however a learning curve for me, in as far as ensuring that I continue networking with like minded groups within the continent, at all levels, in preparation for the next 4th conference on Financing for Development.
The key highlight of my participation at the UN FFD3 conference was interacting with senior government officials and activists from my own country and the region, including participating in the African women’s meeting with Dr Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women. The honeymoon ends as soon as one goes back to the home country and it becomes another struggle of trying to access the same government officials and policy makers for continuous engagement at national level, in preparation for future national, regional and global events. Two weeks on, I still find myself hearing these buzzing in my head: SYSTEMIC ISSUES, TAXATION, DOMESTIC RESOURCE MOBILIZATION, PRIVATE CAPITAL, PUBLIC FINANCE, DEBT, TRADE, and TECHNOLOGY & AID.
In preparation for the next FfD4, African civil society organisations need to continue working together and become more inclusive to ensure that the voices of marginalised groups are heard at all levels. That also includes the need to ensure that continental development frameworks such as Agenda 2063 continue to remain relevant, especially in developing key policy demands, based on how countries would have performed in implementing the Addis Outcome document. There is need for regional organisations such as FEMNET, not to give up the fight but continue forming alliances with other sisters on the continent, irrespective of religion, sub region, language, social class, sexuality and age. There is also need to continue looking beyond the continent and enhance alliances with sisters in Australia, South East Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America towards strengthening the gender agenda in the economic governance agenda, especially at the global level.
One day at a time, I believe that with consistency, commitment and solidarity across the world, member states and the private sector will agree to a common framework that will put women and children at the centre of economic development. With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit approaching soon in two months time, it becomes imperative to continue reminding myself of the role I can play in my continent to ensure that the SDG framework is a deal that will lift many women and children from poverty but also strengthen them to have a voice in matters that affect their lives.
*Tafadzwa Muropa is a FEMNET member from Zimbabwe, with 11 years working experience (in social movements and international NGOs) in Zimbabwe, Malawi and now in Uganda with ActionAid as a Development Worker attached to Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). Connect with her on Twitter @Mutsawashe08 and at email@example.com.