Category Archives: Development Effectiveness

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
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#ABetterWorld

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By: Yemurai Nyoni

When it comes to gender equality and the question of why I keep talking about it, I have this to say. Gender (in) equality is a real issue, whose legitimacy is still undermined by the status quo: the existing arrangement of our economies, societies and politics. As a young man, a youth voice and a part of your social media family; I have to keep talking about gender equality in order to send the message home.

I aim to make sure that by the time we’re done talking about gender equality, that’s all our leaders will have left to say. Up to such a point that any leader who doesn’t say it, see it or work towards it as we do, will stick out like a sore thumb.

We need to keep conditioning the world to see what we see in order to bring our future closer. There is a greater hope for humanity, a suppressed potential, which we will see if and when women have their stake of the development pie.

So I will continue to speak about gender equality, until this conversation stops being unusual. But even then I will continue, because it is not enough to speak about it or believe in it; we must take the necessary steps to prove its authenticity. That way, when we have seen the transformative power of women’s leadership, when we witness their constructive influence on the economy, society and politics; there will be no turning back, ever.

To my female friends and colleagues, we are not at gender equality 101 yet. Somehow it seems the world can still afford to leave you out, beat you up and keep you down. So they need to hear more, they need to believe and we can help them. Hence I speak with the 50+% because there is a case to prove and women need a full platform to prove it.

Lastly, for those who ask for evidence of the benefits of gender equality, there is plenty in tow; but the best of it is yet to come. #HeForShe #MorePower #MoreSpace #NoViolence #GenderEquality #NoRegrets #MakeItHap

Infographic courtesy of Women Deliver http://www.womendeliver.org/knowledge-center/publications/invest-in-girls-and-women-everybody-wins-2014/

Change MustBe Accelerated to End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in One Generation

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia. It is an extreme and violent form of discrimination and violates the rights of women and girls to equality, bodily integrity and dignity.
As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we are at a critical window of opportunity – a ‘tipping point’ where momentum is growing and change can be accelerated. FGM is now prohibited to varying degrees in 20 out of 29 of the countries in Africa and the Middle East where it is most prevalent, although full implementation of the law continues to be a challenge.

Over the last 12 months, the campaign against FGM has received renewed support from different actors committed to ending the practice. According to UNICEF, Kenya has led the way with falls in prevalence from middle-aged women to adolescent girls from 49% to 15%, albeit with an increase in the percentage of FGM performed by health personnel.
2014also saw a significant increase in theprosecution of FGM cases globally and verdicts in a few countries.In Kenya,efforts are in full gear to enforce the Children’s Act as well as the Prohibition of FGM Act. The creation of anFGM and Early Marriage Prosecutorial Unit inthe Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the establishment of the Anti-FGM Board has resulted in an increase in the number of cases being reported to the police.
Meanwhile, Tarime in Tanzania witnessedthe first FGM prosecution in a community that has been reluctant to change. The UK has also had its first ever case of FGM since the passage of its anti-FGM law in 1985. In Egypt in 2014, the Attorney General filed that country’s first case of FGM since a law was passed banning FGM in 2008. 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died after a doctor performed FGM on her at the behest of her father. On January 26, the doctor was sentenced to two years in jail for manslaughter and three months for performing FGM. Soheir’s father received a three month suspended sentence. The doctor’s clinic was also closed for one year. This first ever FGM trial in Egypt is hugely important in a country which has the highest number of affected women and girls in the world. In a country where more than 75% of FGM cases are performed by medical practitioners, it is also extremely significant that a medical professional was sentenced.
The narrative on FGM found new platforms too. Key players in sparking media interest were two campaigns – The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM and The Guardian’s Global Media Campaign to End FGM. The Guardian’s campaign recognizes the critical role of the media in ending FGM and seeks to provide incentives to keep the issue on top of the media agenda. An international reporting award, named after the late Efua Dorkenoo,will be granted annually to an African reporterwho has demonstrated innovation and commitment in covering FGM.

However, many challenges remain too in addressing FGM around the world. Many countries with high rates of FGM still do not have laws banning FGM.Without laws, women and girls have no way to seek redress and states send the message that they condone the practice. Those that have laws in place are yet to fully enforce them.
In Kenya, Equality Now has been monitoring three cases of girls who died following complications related to the practice in Kajiado, Oloitoktok and Pokot. Two of the girls were pregnant and forced to undergo FGM to hasten their passage into womanhood after delivery. The possibility that there could have been more cases that were not reported cannot be ruled out either.

The theme of this Year’s Zero Tolerance Day – the involvement and mobilization of health personnel to end FGM could not be more apt. It is urgently required. The fact that health personnel sometimes fail in their duty of care and perform FGM,undermines decades of hard work and is a violation of medical ethical obligations to protect health and “do no harm.”
Resistance to FGM laws has also hampered efforts to eliminate this human rights violation.For example, in June 2014, a section of Maasai women in Kenya took to the streets demanding that the government permit them to practice their supposed ‘tradition’. In December 2014, in Kuria and Narok Counties, local chiefs and activists who had set out to save girls from undergoing the practice were attacked. In Tanzania, girls who had escaped FGM and sought refuge in a rescue centre were forced to undergo the practice when they returned to their families.
If we are to truly end FGM in one generation, a joined-up comprehensive approach works best. This includes prevention, protection, provision of services, partnerships and prosecutions where required. States must live up to their international obligations and protect women and girls, as well as provide support services for girls at risk or women who have undergone FGM.

Members of the medical profession should take a leading role in eliminating the practice by refusing to perform FGM, educating communities about the harmful consequences of FGM and providing care where needed.


Mary Wandia

FGM Program Manager

Equality Now
mwandia@equalitynow.org: Cell: +254 733 860036

2015 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FGM

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THEME: “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting”.

On 6th February we stand in solidarity together with the people around the world who are observing this annual International Zero Tolerance Day to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. This day fosters awareness of the harmful effects of female genital mutilation/cutting and renews the call for communities to abandon this inhumane practice.

FGM/C refers to a procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is a practice that occurs across cultures and religions, although in fact no religion mandates the procedure. The practice is often performed and often using such instruments as broken glass, tin lids, scissors, unsterilized razors or surgical blades. According to World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this dangerous practice.

Everyone must act jointly to abandon the practice, so that girls and their families who opt out do not become social outcasts. Communities working together to abandon FGM/C can ensure stronger, healthier futures for girls, young women, and their families. We all have an obligation to work together for the equality, well-being, and prosperity.

How to engage tomorrow: Use the hashtags #EndFGM #Zerotoleranceday #TogetherforZero add your voice to call for the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice.

UNCCD short writting-contest 2015

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Theme: Land nurturing people nurturing life

The UNCCD is pleased to announce its first Short Writing Contest. The theme is ‘Land nurturing people nurturing life
  • How would you express your relationship with land in a poem?
  • ​What does land mean to you?
  • Do you know any proverb about land in your country? Is it still relevant in your today’s life?
We welcome all literary expressions and styles, from a very short Haiku-style to a short story of up to 500 words. Entries must be written in English.
There are two categories:
(1) University Students and General Public
(2) Children and Youth in High-School and Below.
The winner of the first category will receive US$500, the second US$300.
Please note that all shortlisted entries will be checked for plagiarism. Plagiarized works will be disqualified from the competition.
Deadline for receiving the application is 15 May 2015.
Please fill in the form which is available on this page, and send it either by:
E-mail: Library@unccd.int
Fax: +49 228 815 2898
Postal mail: UNCCD Library, UN Campus, PO Box 260129, 53153 Bonn, Germany
The winner will be announced on the UNCCD website on 17 June 2015, the World Day to Combat Desertification.

Implement #MaputoProtocol NOW!

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The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (better known as the Maputo Protocol) is one of the world’s most comprehensive women’s human rights instruments, with progressive provisions aimed at addressing the current realities of girls and women across the African continent including addressing harmful traditional practices, economic empowerment, ending violence against women and food security. The theme of the AU Summit this year; “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” provides a unique opportunity to accelerate commitments towards the Maputo Protocol.
The Maputo Protocol currently has 36 ratifications.

“Realization of #TheAfricaWeWant through #Agenda2063 starts with implementation of the #MaputoProtocol. Implement Now! http://thndr.it/183gcJe”
Support SOAWR in sharing this message here;
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21509-implement-maputoprotocol-now?locale=en

Faiza on SOAWR & the #MaputoProtocol

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As SOAWR, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition celebrates 10 years of its existence and its efforts to continuously breathe life into
the Maputo Protocol, one of the most progressive instruments on women’s rights globally, we caught up with one of the founders; Faiza Mohamed, Nairobi Director of Equality Now, where the Secretariat of the SOAWR Coalition lies.

1.  Why SOAWR? Why was it necessary at that point and has it lived up to its objectives?

The collective organizing and lobbying of African women to ensure adoption of a stronger Protocol inspired us that we should continue to make it a reality for women and that it will not be reduced to being powerless and on paper only. So, SOAWR was born in Sept 2004 to advocate for ratification and speedy entry into force of the Protocol so it becomes binding on state parties, to popularized throughout the continent and to push for its implementation. This means we wanted state parties to take actions to ensure the rights provided therein are enjoyed by women.It is work in progress but I believe we have covered great ground. Protocol is widely known in the majority of countries in African Union, 36 countries are state parties and we know more are going to join this list soon, in several countries lawyers are now using the Protocol in court to get justice for women whose rights were violated, Several countries have also adopted multisectoral approach to ensure all sectors of government are working together in fulfilling their obligations under the Protocol, and so on…

2. 10 years down the line, what have been some of the milestones? Your personal favorite moments?

When on 25th October 2005 Togo (the 15th member state to do so) deposited its instrument of ratification and paved the way for its entry into force on 25th November 2005.
When we issued score cards and the Delegation of Senegal made a statement at the summit claiming they should be given a green card as they ratified the Protocol. The African Union was not aware since Senegal had not deposited. Amazingly as the delegation promised the President brought their instrument of ratification to that summit (Jan 2005). This further influenced more countries to deposit their instruments of ratification which is why by October 2005 we had the required 15 ratifications for the Protocol to enter into force.

3. Moving forward, what do you envision, for the coalition and the realization of the Protocol?

The coalition has really done a lot and we should all be proud of our achievements to-date. However, we can’t rest until we reach a point where women are enjoying their rights to the fullest. The continent is big but with our collective energy we can move mountains. The coalition’s vision is still relevant and we have a lot of lessons to build on and a great deal of opportunities to take advantage of. This is the year of African women’s empowerment. That itself is a wonderful opportunity!