Category Archives: Economic Governance

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


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


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, and/or Naisola Likimani –

On behalf of FEMNET:, Dinah Musindarwezo and/or Rachel Kagoiya:

[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

Women’s Rights and Illicit Financial Flows

FEMNET Head of Communications Nebila Abdulmelik caught up with Samantha Spooner of the Mail & Guardian to share her thoughts on Illicit Financial Flows and the linkages with women’s rights work:

1. How do gender issues fit into illicit financial flows?

​Illicit financial flows further social, gender, spatial inequities and inequalities. Many of the factors that exacerbate IFFs, such as overeliance on natural resource extraction​ and the work of many multi-national corporations further environmental degradation and often workers in such industries operate in low-paying, unsafe and insecure working conditions with rampant human rights violations – which disproportionately affect women. It is estimated that 40-50% of workers in the mining industry (particularly in small-scale and artisinal) are women who are not receiving living wages, don’t have a right to unionise, don’t have access to benefits or social protection mechanisms.

If conservative estimates say that Africa loses $50 billion annually through IFFs, that lost revenue impacts service delivery on a range of socio-economic needs of the population and the realization of their rights – particularly those most marginalized – women and girls are whom often in that category. States are often at a deficit, using regressive taxation – including VAT on essential products, cut spending on social services which again disproportionately affect those most in need and increase the burden of care on women and girls.

A key anecdote that brings these examples to life is a study/report carried out by Action Aid on SAB Miller (the brewery giant). This particular case was of its plants in Ghana – apparently, Marta who owns a small shop outside of the SAB Miller plant pays more in taxes than the giant itself. This is a clear indication of the injustices of the current system.

We see also that the mama mbogas (small scale business women who sell fruits and vegetables on the streets) pay taxes while multi-national corporations who make billions in profits get tax breaks!

2. What does FEMNET do in regards to this and how is it trying to address those specific challenges?

FEMNET is keen to mobilise African women to take part in the conversations around IFFs and Financing for Development more broadly. Financing is an issue that affects all of us – and we must begin to understand and deepen our engagement of macro-economic policies and their socio-political impact on our lives and our work. Earlier last month, FEMNET along with AWDF (African Women’s Development Fund) and the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition​ ​hosted a Feminist Strategy meeting so that more feminist and women’s rights organisations and practitioners could have a deeper understanding and begin engaging. FEMNET is also one of the Interim Working Group member for the IFF Campaign that is meant to raise awareness and action amongst the general public as well as ensure decision-makers take this issue seriously and begin to take concrete measures to curb IFFs.  ​

3. Any statistics you can share on IFF and the direct impact on women in Africa? 

Unfortunately we don’t have those statistics – which is perhaps more reason why we need more feminist and women’s rights actors to engage so that we can have stats such as these on our fingertips and in the public domain.​

4. Depending on the outcome of the meeting in Addis, where do you see African women 10 years down the line – gains or lack of gains?

​I consider myself a cautious optimist. So I will say that I see more women who are ​in decision-making spaces, able to shape policies and practices, able to determine budget allocations, trade agreements, transform tax and finance regimes and also able to shape the decisions at their local and household levels as well.

I envision that African women’s rights organisations will be self-sustaining and financially feasible and will be driving the agenda rather than be driven by it. ​

Nebila Abdulmelik is a pan-Africanist and a feminist passionate about social justice. She currently serves as the Head of Communications for FEMNET. Connect with her @aliben86, and/or

The Gender Equality, Tax Justice and Economic Growth Conundrum


By Nyaguthii Wangui Maina*

[This is a series of blog posts on the African Feminist Strategy meeting on Financing for Development & the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the first and second of which can be found here and here, respectively]

A sitting Head of State in Africa in one of the regional economic bloc meetings once made an argument for the ongoing investments in his country; his government was primarily focused on improving economic growth by investing in the ‘productive sectors’ whilst would deal with maternal and child health care issues thereafter. A disgruntled participant in the same meeting interjected and posed the following question to the Head of State.

“How does an economy grow with dead people?”

Principles of taxation depict that for a tax system to make any sense, it should be fair, equitable, transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and at the heart of it all, it should represent citizens as tax payers. If these principles are present then taxation will meet its objectives. Which to name a few are: Raise revenues in an equitable manner; redistribute income and wealth; regulate the economy and society; re-price goods and services; and recognize the role of eco systems. What has however come to light through various studies is that the missing objective has been a gender approach to taxation which in essence levels the field based on needs.

Dr. Attiya Warris, a tax pundit, elucidates in one of her studies the intrinsic link between women, economic growth and tax spending in Africa; the more tax African countries collect from increased economic activity, the more likely they are to be spending it on women. The more they spend it on women, the more their economies and labour force grow. The links are interchangeable and the reverse is true as demonstrated in the table and graphs below:



“Why is this component among the least discussed in terms of solutions?” she asks.

The Millennium Development Goals are the current and soon to expire global and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions and have by and large improved the welfare of women through MDG 3 that has seen in most countries the increased enrolment of girls in school, improved maternal and child health, reduced cases of FGM, teenage pregnancies but to name a few.

With the ushering in of the new Sustainable Development Goals in September, achieving gender equality is still poised as a key driver in steering development as reflected in SDG 5 which is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. I believe African economies are at the frontline in requiring gender equality if growth trajectories and ambitions are anything to go by; positioning itself as an emerging force in the 21st century.

It is reported the total potential annual economic losses due to gender gaps in labour force participation have been estimated to exceed $255 billion for the sub-Saharan region, and to cost an equivalent of  9% of Africa’s overall GDP growth.But as stated time immemorial, one cannot make a case for gender equality based on economic principles alone. Women’s rights are basic human rights—the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security as pledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and expounded by the UN Millennium Declaration Project.

“Absence of value based thinking is contributing to this rising inequality,” says Dr. Attiya. “There is so much more to be done, transformational agendas without transformational leadership are obsolete.”

*Ms Nyaguthii Wangui Maina is a blogger; connect with her on her blog Musings of A People and on Twitter @nm_wangui.




free web-based course by Gender Hub provides participants with a general grounding in the current concepts of governance from a gender perspective, and offers some examples and resources for applying these within key governance institutions, with a focus on governments, and in particular Nigeria.

The course has been designed for a broad range of people, including: gender focal points within ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), gender leads in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and those working in new and traditional media roles. However, anyone interested in understanding the challenges relating to gender and governance, such as non-gender specialist policy advisers, academics and students would also benefit.

Although the course is intended to be most useful for people in Nigeria, it could be valuable for people from any region. The course is short, self-paced, and facilitated, and completion is marked by a certificate award issued jointly by BRIDGE, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, and Gender Hub.

Application deadline: Jan 29th

Course runs: Feb 2nd to Mar 2nd

Cost: Free

Requirements: Access to computer, the internet, an email address, and a modern browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, etc)

Link to registration page, and further details:



15 October 2014

On this International Day of Rural Women we, the undersigned organisations, call on African governments to end discrimination against rural women in Africa, especially in their access to traditional leadership roles and inheritance rights.

Currently, a number of countries in Africa deny daughters the ability to become chiefs solely on the basis of their gender, whether in terms of law or practice. For example, under the Chieftainship Act in Lesotho, daughters are prohibited from succeeding to chieftainship solely because of their gender. This blatantly discriminatory law was upheld by the Lesotho Court of Appeal despite the Constitution and applicable international and regional law prohibiting discrimination and guaranteeing the right to equality.

Similarly, a number of countries deny women equal access to inheritance, again, solely due to their gender. For example, countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, amongst others, contrary to constitutional and statutory protections, continue to deny women equal inheritance to men of family property.

These discriminatory laws and practices tend to have a greater impact on rural women leaving them vulnerable to poverty. They further reinforce women’s secondary status to men within the community. Given the recent celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child, this negative impact on girls must be addressed.

Furthermore, laws and practices discriminating against women violate key rights guaranteed under international and regional treaties. Women have the right to equality with men in terms of Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 3 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), and Article 8(f) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). In addition, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Article 26 of the ICCPR, Article 2(2) of the ICESCR, Articles 2 and 18(3) of the African Charter, and Article 3 of the Maputo Protocol all require countries to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

A handful of countries in Africa have acknowledged the importance of ending discrimination against women in inheritance. For example, in Botswana, the Court of Appeal made it clear that any law that denied women equal access to inheritance solely on the basis of their gender violates the Constitution and laws of Botswana. This decision and its implementation by the government was a significant step forward in ensuring an end to women’s secondary status. Similar positive strides have been made by the courts in Kenya and South Africa.

However, despite a few positive steps towards ending discrimination, much more needs to be done. We call on African governments, including parliaments to ensure that women have equal access to inheritance and to traditional leadership roles to men. In addition, where courts have failed to uphold basic principles of the Constitution, as is the case in Lesotho, parliament must act to ensure that laws permit women the equal ability to inherit and rise to traditional leadership positions as men.


Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)

Associação, Mulher, Lei e Desenvolvimento (MULEIDE)

Centre for Economic Social Cultural Rights in Africa (CESCRA)

Federation of Women Lawyers, Kenya (FIDA-Kenya)

Federation of Women Lawyers, Lesotho (FIDA-Lesotho)

Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation, Nigeria (HHWSF)

Institute for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED-Africa)

Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA)

Liga Moçambicana dos Direitos Humanos (Mozambique Human Rights League)

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)

Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) Mozambique

Women and Law in Southern Africa (Regional Office)

Find more information here. 



June 25th, 2014

We representatives of women’s rights, faith and community-based, civil society organizations, media and government from over 14 countries across the continent convened to deliberate on ‘Strengthening African Women’s Voices in the Post-2015 Processes’and the Africa We Want and Need.

We recognize that the Common African Position (CAP) 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.

Within the Post-2015 global process, this recognition has led to a dedicated goal on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. For gender equality and women’s empowerment to be truly transformative, it must be anchored in a human rights framework. In addition to a stand-alone goal, it is essential that women’s rights be a cross-cutting priority within the entire Sustainable Development Goals framework.

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.  In addition, development cannot be achieved without peace, security and accountable governance as clearly articulated in CAP.

We therefore call for your support on the following:-

a)      A transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment;

b)      Recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work – the burden of care falls disproportionately on women and girls and must be shared among men and women; the State; Private Sector, Communities;

c)       Eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls – in policies, laws and practices. This includes the elimination of harmful practices including FGM and early, child and forced marriage;

d)      Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; which would address unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality, teenage pregnancies, transmission of STIs, HIV/AIDS

e)     Access to, control over and ownership of resources and assets including land, energy, credit, information and technology;

f)   Mobilize domestic resources through innovative financing such as curbing illicit financial flows, eliminating tax havens, instituting progressive taxation, gender-responsive budgets, reallocating military expenditures and eliminating corruption;

g)    Ensuring gender parity in decision-making, transparent and accountable governance at all levels

h)     Addressing peace as stand-alone goal and also ensure its mainstreaming throughout all other goals with an emphasis on the principles of good governance and rule of law.

We urge you to keep the spaces open for meaningful CSO engagement in all stages of the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the Post 2015 development framework. We also emphasize the need to mobilize the maximum available resources tomeet existing human rights obligations and ensure the full enjoyment of economic and social rights, following principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilitiesnon-retrogression for the diversity of actors engaged in development, especially women’s organizations and movements. As CSO representatives and other stakeholders, we are committed to work in partnership with African governments to ensure the realization of the above to deliver an inclusive, participatory and equitable Africa we want and need – not only for the next 15 years but for generations to come. Let this be our legacy.

For more information, contact: