Category Archives: Democracy

WATCH: Shutting Down the Rainbow Nation, #FeesMustFall #NationalShutDown

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“all we want is to better ourselves as well as break the cycle of poverty – mobilizing and uniting our struggles, interwoven with bigger struggles for economic transformation and social cohesion”

Students shook the South African nation to its very core this week as protests swept across campuses with the so-called born frees at the helm. “Shutting Down the Rainbow Nation” is a ten minute documentary that captures the energy and heart of the student-led movement, which shut down higher education institutions around the country. It speaks to the policing of the black body, state violence, and the fall of the ‘rainbow nation’, sewn together with videos posted by the public on Twitter and Facebook throughout the shutdown. History was re-written this week, as it became clear that even though the revolution may not have been (adequately) televised, it was certainly tweeted.

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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

African Women’s Position on the New Development Agenda

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African Women’s Position on the New Development Agenda

United Nations – Sunday, 2 August 2015, 193 governments agreed to a historic agenda for global sustainable development to be carried out over the next 15 years, which will be formally adopted by world leaders at the UN General Assembly in September. African women joined other women’s rights activists in applauding the new “2030 Agenda” for having the promise of being truly transformative for women and girls around the world.

The new agenda includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a framework of 17 goals and 169 targets that build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year. Gender equality is addressed much more robustly than the MDGs did and recognize the issue as crosscutting.

The “2030 Agenda” includes significant victories for women and girls. Governments have committed to:

  • End discrimination and gender-based violence
  • End child marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all
  • Protect women’s and girls’ reproductive rights
  • Recognize and value the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls
  • Expand women’s economic opportunities and ensure their rights to resources
  • Eliminate gender disparities in schools and ensure equal access to education

Gender equality, human rights and the empowerment of women and girls remains a critical driver to the achievement of the sustainable development goals. The prioritization of women’s rights will ensure that spatial, political, social and economic inequalities are addressed. Furthermore, the redistribution of wealth, power, opportunities and resources is critical for addressing prevalent inequalities between men and women, within and between countries. Although we have registered substantial gains in securing gender equality in the Post-2015 development framework, the lack of political will from some of the African Member states to safeguard gender equality and the human rights of women and girls throughout the Post-2015 development process remains of great concern to African women.

We are deeply concerned that Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon consistently called for removal of language on gender equality, reproductive rights, recognition of human rights and non-discrimination for all. In January 2014, the African Heads of States adopted the Common African Position (CAP) on Post-2015 articulating the continent’s priorities in the Post-2015 development agenda. The Common African Position has strong commitments to ensure that “No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” African Heads of State specifically highlighted the inextricable link between gender equality, women’s rights, women’s empowerment and Africa’s structural transformation.

As we come to a close of what has been a protracted process and enter a new phase of implementation of the “2030 Agenda”, its follow up and review; we call on African leaders to demonstrate political will in implementing the “2030 Agenda” through domesticating at national level and allocation of adequate resources. In line with the commitment to gender equality within the African Union, we call upon them to implement progressive regional and global agreements such as; The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; The Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) and The Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other related Infectious diseases. This will play a critical complementary enabling role for the new Development Agenda in the realization of women’s and girls’ rights and the achievement of gender equality.

For more information please contact:

Brazil: Dilma Rousseff re-elected President

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source: The News

Leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff was re-elected president of Brazil on Sunday, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, after a down-to-the-wire race against center-right challenger Aecio Neves.

Rousseff, the first woman president of the world’s seventh-largest economy, took 51.64 percent of the vote to 48.36 percent for business favorite Aecio Neves, election officials said with more than 99 percent of ballots counted.

After a vitriolic campaign that largely split the country between the poor north and wealthier south, Rousseff crucially picked up enough middle-class votes in the industrialized southeast to cement a fourth straight win for her Workers’ Party (PT).

The 66-year-old, a former leftist guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for fighting the 1964-1985 dictatorship, called for unity. And she promised dialogue to give Brazil the changes she said that she knows voters want.

“This president is open to dialogue. This is the top priority of my second term,” she told supporters in the capital Brasilia, clad in white beside two-term predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After four years of sluggish economic growth culminating in recession this year, she admitted her own report card had to improve and vowed to combat corruption.

“I want to be a much better president than I have been to date,” she said, issuing “a call for peace and unity” after a bitter campaign of low blows and mutual recriminations.

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When is Civil Society a Force for Social Transformation?

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Source: opendemocracy.net

There are more civil society organizations in the world today than at any other time in history, so why isn’t their impact growing?

When you look at the numbers, the growth of civil society has been remarkable: 3.3 million charities in India and 1.5 million across the United States; NGOs like the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee that work with hundreds of millions of people; 81,000 international NGOs and networks, 90 per cent of them launched since 1975. That’s not counting all the street protests, social movements and informal community groups that are often omitted from the data. In the UK, for example, these latter outnumber registered charities by more than four to one.

These statistics are mightily impressive – except when compared to the problems that civil societies want to solve. You could argue that things would be worse without the involvement of these groups. There’s also evidence to show that they’re making inroads around the edges of poverty and injustice.

But there’s no sign that the underlying structures of social, political and economic violence and oppression are being shaken to their roots.

As a result, fewer people in the world are dying young, and basic indicators of health and education, income and employment are getting slightly better – at least for most people in most countries. However, economic inequality is rising, democracies are being hollowed out, climate change is worsening, and discrimination based on race, gender, ability and sexual orientation remains endemic.

Social movements have helped to challenge these underlying problems, and they’ve successfully unseated dictators in many parts of the world. But they haven’t been able to secure lasting gains in democracy, equality and freedom.

Expecting civil society groups to achieve these gains by themselves would be foolish. However, given the rapid growth of all these organizations, shouldn’t they be having at least some impact on the deep transformation of self and society? What is going wrong?

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