Category Archives: Beijing+20

Join & Follow Panel Discussion: Implement NOW #WomensRights Commitments #26thAUSummit

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African leaders have endorsed human rights in national, regional, continental and international instruments. However, the effective implementation of key AU human rights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, by the majority of member states is still lagging behind the agreed targets. Upholding of human and women’s rights remains a responsibility of all stakeholders but most especially a primary responsibility of Governments who are the duty bearers. Thus the 2016 AU theme African Year of Human Rights, with specific focus on Women’s Rights” provides an opportunity for the African leaders with strong participation of civil society, especially African women and other actors to assess the implementation of these key instruments and redefine the future of the continent and its population – men and women, boys and girls.

You  Are  Invited to a Panel Discussion by FEMNET, SOAWR & MEWC

What role did women’s groups play in setting the 2030 Agenda?

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Listen to Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) talking with IWHC‘s Jessie Clyde about the critical role the women’s movement in Africa played in mobilizing and contributing to the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the 2030 Agenda.

“women’s rights organizations felt it was critical to ensure the voices, the realities, the needs and interests of African women and girls inform the next development Agenda”

“women’s groups brought the rights perspectives to the table…as well as inclusion of comprehensive gender equality issues such as ending violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriages, women’s participation and representation in all levels of decision making levels – both public and private”

PRESS RELEASE: An Appeal to African Leaders: Support Gender Equality in the Sustainable Development Goals Without Reservations

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24th September 2015

For Immediate Release

On the eve of the adoption of the landmark Post-2015 Development Agenda over 140 advocates for the rights of women and girls in Africa are urging their leaders to support targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Indeed, these targets are already in line with existing African commitments that guarantee universal access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services.

The two targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals call on governments to:

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes;

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

In a Statement titled African Women & Girls Call on their Governments to Support Gender Equality in Totality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advocates note that throughout the negotiation process some African governments have spoken out against inclusion of these targets. This despite all 54 member states of the African Union having adopted and implemented progressive regional commitments on the right to sexual and reproductive health. [1]

Ms. Dinah Musindarwezo of FEMNET said, “We are urging our Heads of State and Government to stand in solidarity with the millions of African women and girls affected by poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and explicitly support the SRHR targets 3.7 and 5.6 in the Post-2015 Development Agenda without any reservation.”

 

For more information please contact:

On behalf of SOAWR: Kavinya Makau, kmakau@equalitynow.org and/or Naisola Likimani – likimanin@ipas.org

On behalf of FEMNET:, Dinah Musindarwezo director@femnet.or.ke and/or Rachel Kagoiya: library@femnet.or.ke

[1] Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2006); The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) popularly known as ‘Maputo Protocol’; the Common Africa Position (CAP) on the Post-2015 development agenda

A UNITED FRONT FOR THE NOT MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS GENDER PRINCIPLE IN KENYA

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By Kerigo Odada

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 upholds the rights of women as being equal in law to men, and entitled to enjoy equal CoK 2010 opportunities in the political, social and economic spheres. Under Article 81 (b) not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive public bodies shall be of the same gender.

Under Article 27 of the constitution the government is required to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programs and policies to address the past discrimination that women have faced. Additionally, the government is required to develop policies and laws to ensure that, not more than two-thirds of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same sex. However this law that was a significant achievement for women has recently come under threat since the Chepkonga Bill was tabled before parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the provision of articles 81 (b) by providing for its progressive realization. This move by the Chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee was not taken lightly by women and men who are in support of gender parity in political representation.

Civil Society Organizations came together in support of an advocacy campaign against the Chepkong’a Bill. The campaign is meant to ensure that the two-thirds gender rule is fully implemented as set out in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and that women’s participation in politics and government is safeguarded.

CSOs-led campaigns such as Thuluthi Mbili Za Mama Twazitaka Sasa and Green Amendment, both supported byDoc1  likeminded parliamentarians under the umbrella of KEPHRA (Kenya Parliamentary for Human Rights Association) and KEWOPA (Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association) came together in support of one formula that has already been tabled before parliament by Leader of Majority in Parliament Hon. Aden Duale.

Before the merger of the advocacy campaigns in support of the Geen ammendmenttwo-thirds gender principle, CSOs were championing two different Bills presenting two different formulae.

The two formulae being championed by CSOs were:

Twinning: Have the 290 constituencies contested as usual. Then pair up 98 neighbouring constituencies for women to compete among themselves in addition to the 47 slots already created in counties. For example, Kibra merged with Langata, Westlands paired up with Kabete, Dagoreti North with Dagoreti Westland. Again the team was proposing nomination slots to be extended by 14 to make it 20 to represent youth, women and persons with disabilities. In summary, if this proposal had gone through, there would be 290 MPs, 145 female elected MPs and 20 nominated MPs to represent special groups and one Speaker adding up to 456 persons in the National Assembly.

The ‘greatest looser’: currently being championed by CSOs, KEWOPA and KEPHRA. It was tabled by the Attorney General through Hon. Duale after High Court Judge, Justice Mumbi Ngugi gave the Attorney General and the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) 40 days to prepare and table the two-thirds gender rule Bill before Parliament. The Bill states that, after an election, if the number of women does not meet the constitutional threshold, the gap will be bridged by picking additional women as per party lists. Political parties will submit a list of members to be nominated. According to the Bill, the allocation of the seats will be done proportionally on the basis of the number of seats won by a political party in order to ensure the empowerment through nomination will be spread to many people. The Bill also stipulates that one cannot be nominated for the special seats for more than two terms. It says the provision for the special seats will lapse 20 years after the 2017 elections.

The Bill introduces new clauses to Articles 97 and 98 to alter the composition of the National Assembly and the Senate. “The composition of the National Assembly (Senate) comprises of the number of special seat members necessary to ‎ensure no more than two-thirds of the membership of the National Assembly (Senate) is of the same gender,” the new clause says. The Bill also introduces new clauses to Articles 97 and 98 to ensure the special seats are allocated proportionate to the number of seats won by a political party, determined after a general election.

Moving a motion to reduce the Bill’s publication period, majority leader Aden Duale said the National Assembly will seek the extension of the fast-approaching August 27 deadline for the Bill’s enactment.

The laws that are targeted for review are the Elections Act, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, the Political Parties Act, the County Governments Act and the National Gender and Equality Commission Act.

FEMNET is united with the women’s movement in Kenya and in Africa in calling on the Parliament to act in the interest of both men and women in fulfilling the promise the Kenya Constitution that is recognized as one of the most

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progressive Constitutions in Africa. Often we hear about the huge cost associated with increasing the number of women in parliament and yet we do not hear about the cost of excluding experiences, expertise of more that 50 percent of the population from being part of the decision-making on matters that impact their lives.

Kenya is the only country in the Eastern Africa that has recently entered the category of the middle income country, is one of the Countries’ that hosted the women’s international conference, hosted the launch of the African Women’s Decade in 2010 and recently co-facilitated the just concluded negotiations of the Post-2015 Development Agenda that has emerged with great wins for gender equality. Yet, in Eastern Africa, Kenya is performing dismally on women’s political representation. Kenya falls short of reaching the 30 percent threshold of women’s representation as stipulated in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and definitely far below the African Union’s 50 percent gender parity policy framework. For this situation to change there is a need to change the Kenyan political systems and most importantly the gender perceptions of the policymakers and the entire citizenry.

The recent 20 years review of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing +20) showed that eight countries in Africa including South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Seychelles and Uganda have reached the 30 percent target of women in the national parliament. It is high time that Kenya learnt from these countries. With or without formulas, implementing the two thirds gender principle is do-able!

Kerigo Odada is a lawyer passionate about pan-Africanism, economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, currently attached to the Advocacy Programme at FEMNET. Follow her at @eunidada

One Year On – We Have Not Forgotten – #BringBackOurGirls

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We are unfortunately fast approaching the one year anniversary since hundreds of girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria.

A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls.
In light of this, all citizens of conscience are invited to join in the solidarity week of action from April 8th – 14th April  to speak out and take action against increasing fundamentalisms and oppressive systems of patriarchy and domination which perpetuate injustice.
You will recall that our call for a solidarity day of action on May 15 which marked one month resulted in incredible mobilization from over 20 countries across Africa as well as globally – with the holding of vigils, fasts, prayers, marches, protests, sit ins, media engagements and more! Here in Nairobi, hundreds from all walks of life took to the streets to express their love, hurt, anger and solidarity.
There will be a Global School Girls March on April 14th. If you are planning any activities in your respective cities/towns/countries – please fill out this form:
 

Here are some social media messages that you can feel free to use and share widely, along with a mapping of relevant policy makers for the targeting of those messages. Some images can also be accessed here – please feel free to use and share widely. 

Please also let us know if you’re interested in writing op-eds, articles or blog posts in relation to the girls.

For any questions, please contact communication@femnet.or.ke

Africa & Beijing+20 – CSO Position Statement

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​African women have been at the forefront of shaping the global agenda for women’s rights from the 3rd World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985 that resulted in the “Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies”. The 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 was chaired by a prominent African woman, Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, who alongside other African women ensured that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s (BDPfA) 12 critical areas of concern reflected priorities of African women and girls.

Over the last two decades, Africa has made tremendous strides in developing progressive frameworks to advance the rights of women on the Continent. Nevertheless, the 20 year review of the BDPfA comes within a social, political and economic environment in which many of the gains made in 1995 are facing various threats.

It is therefore incumbent upon us, as Africans, to re-dedicate ourselves to the commitments made in the BDPfA and other international and regional commitments on rights of women, recognizing women in all their diversities. This includes ensuring on-going processes and negotiations on Post 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Financing for Development (FfD), the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), and the Africa Agenda 2063 do not erode these commitments and that they consolidate the gains made. Reaffirming as well that the State remains the principal duty bearer of human rights obligations and this responsibility should not be shifted to other actors such as civil society, development partners or the private sector.​

Access the full Africa CSO position statement on Beijing+20 here.

Access the press release: Governments must re-dedicate themselves to women and girls’ rights commitments here.

On Beijing+20 – How we must move forward

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By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

November is a month of collective local and global reflection about women’s rights, empowerment and equality as we review the Beijing Commitment. I share with you my thoughts and some of the issues that have been sitting in my belly as I reflect on the journey from 1995 to the present.

Beijing agenda was a feminist agenda. It was about discourse on power and patriarchy; resources and opportunities for women; our knowledge and innovations. It was about women shaping communities, defining peace and development agenda. It was about  women as citizens, shareholders and stakeholders. I was young and breastfeeding; I felt that I can change the world. I knew that government and others have to play their role and be accountable, but essentially I believed in my own agency and that of my sisters, I found my voice, validated my lived experiences and did shake of a number of labels that confined and restricted my identity and my potential. I hope that in Addis, we will rise beyond the technocratic arguments, of crossing the t’s and REALLY reclaim our African feminist voice…beyond gender mainstreaming.

The Beijing Platform for action was about WOMEN! Gender equality was a subset and an ideal to work towards; as we sort to ensure that WOMEN and girls have rights and dignity. I often worry, especially these days when the Beijing review is reduced to a review on extent towards achieving “gender equality”. I think the goal post was about women having opportunities, choices and possibilities in life, and as we work towards these, we will be reducing the gender inequality gap. I just hope that Africa will reclaim the agenda and reframe the conversation so that at the centre is the WOMAN! I often find ourselves losing the focus on women and girls, in all our diversity in the pursuit of the elusive yet important equality ideal.

I do anticipate that in the Civil Society meetings, and in even the government meetings, there will be a lamentation about MEN. Someone will definitely ask “Where are the men?”.This for me is often not the right question. I assume that those men who understand, are supportive and convinced of the agenda will be in the room with us. I just find the whole discussion a distraction from the real focus which should be on male RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY. Men are there always there, every day and in everything, in our families and our lives. Men are the majority in parliaments, making policies and approving budget; they are in board rooms, defining resources allocation and employment options; they head key sectors services such as education, agriculture and health, making far reaching daily decisions on access to services; men led in media organisation defining public opinion and shaping the discourse; and lead in the faith and cultural institutions driving the norms and the values of society. Men are involved, they simply need to be responsive to women’s rights in their daily lives.  It is in these spaces that we expect them to deliver for women’s rights and gender equality, in their everyday space of decision making.

My sisters, we must go beyond the traditional thinking, that women’s issues are only social and micro! Yes, the social sectors are fundamental, as it is the space within which we reproduce society. However, we should step up and make the women’s agenda in Africa MACRO and MACRO. We should talk about women in mining, construction, trade and finance; women defining technology. For instance, the women’s market in Africa should not be viewed as micro, requiring micro credit, but MACRO demanding huge investments and prioritisation. We must claim our global citizenship as define our local actions.

Africa is rising and we must shape a new narrative that goes beyond  Africa’s labels of poverty, starvation, disease, death and wars.  I hope we can all work on a clear re-articulation of Africa, and reclaim how the continent is filthy rich even if the African women and girls are licking the spoon. Yes, we have to demand our government to invest more in health care (ebola and HIV crisis); etc; and this should be from a perspective of building a prosperous Africa at peace with itself, and not from a hand to mouth and humanitarian lets save lives perspectives.

Africa is more than its borders. The seed of Africa is on all the continents, if we count from the shipment of ancestors to far-off lands during the slave trade, the plunder of Africa and its people during colonialism and now the new diaspora and wave of economic and political migrants. The discourse on Beijing for Africa should embrace and seek solidarity with issues of women and girls of African descent, and turn the brain drain of the continent into the brain grain.

It’s about Inter-generational justice. I hope as we celebrate Beijing, and the road Mama Getrude Mongella and others paved, we will be lifting the leadership, voice and capabilities of young women and girls. For us to unleash such potential, we have to really recommit, roll up our sleeves and address some of the unacceptable human rights violations and practices such as child marriage, which I know we can end in a single generation.

I understand there will be No Agreed Conclusions at CSW59, but a Political Declaration. Therefore we have to be clear about what we are demanding and asking of our governments. Lets call for FULFILLMENT of the Beijing commitments accompanied by an ACCOUNTABILITY and a RESOURCING Framework. Yes, we need a stand-alone goal on gender equality with clear means of implementation.

I share these thoughts as I honour the many women who inspire me every day in the YWCAs; each one of you as my sisters; my late mother, Rozaria and daughter Farirai.  Unfortunately, I am unable to join you in Addis this time.

I celebrate you, wish you strength and courage. Africa is indeed rising. You are Afrika.  Arise.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the General Secretary of YWCA. Connect with her @vanyaradzayi.