Category Archives: Post 2015

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.

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Women’s Forum: Feminist Perspectives on the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

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By Nyaguthii Wangui Maina*

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July 10th 2015, marked an important day when feminists from around the globe converged in Addis Ababa Ethiopia to share their views, reflect and consecrate their ideas ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.
With a vibrant room filled to capacity by both female and male counterparts, succinct and pertinent opinions were shared on the amalgamated view that the stakes are indeed high for realizing gender equality and women’s rights as development financing is shaped, negotiated and agreed upon in Addis Ababa. A consistent theme that did however run throughout the discussions was that transformation of mindsets was critical in surmounting the structural barriers impeding gender equality.

The forum was opened by Ms Dinah Musindarwezo from FEMNET and Ms Rosa Lizarde from the Feminist Task Force and Women Working Group on Financing for Development, both of them echoing the views and concerns of participants present in the room; that the road ahead was indeed bumpy.

Despite the well known fact of women’s empowerment and gender equality being basic human rights and central to human development, governments and global state actors alike have nonetheless mismatched their commitments with the required financing and policies. If anything, the alarming trend of women’s civil society spaces shrinking globally is a cause for concern and redress. A keen participant added to this point by raising the issue of women at home being excluded from influencing these very processes. “There is a strong disconnect between politics and the economy and women’s voices are missing everywhere, even at home in domestic processes,” she said.

Ms Rosa Lizarde of the Feminist Task Force, and Ms Dinah Musindarwezo of FEMNET

Ms Rosa Lizarde of the Feminist Task Force, and Ms Dinah Musindarwezo of FEMNET

As the forum began with discussions on the issues at stake in the Financing for Development negotiations and strategic interventions on ways to overcome global obstacles for gender justice and sustainable and equitable development, Ms Lakshmi Puri, deputy Executive Director of UN Women, urged the audience to consistently remember that there can never be enough gender in these discussions. “The political declaration from CSW59 committed member states to support and provide a safe environment for women and girls, however, making all stake holders accountable is pertinent; the private sector has a massive role to play too,” she said. Ms Puri also urged for cohesive interventions in pushing for gender equality. “We must show solidarity between women from the north and south to push our common agenda forward.”

The forum took place in five consecutive sessions. The full program for the women’s forum can be seen here.

Session 1 highlighted the Red Flags for Women’s Rights around the Third Financing for Development Conference and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. An infographic on some of the key areas raised by experts from the Women’s Working Group can be seen below:

Womens major group red flags

Session 2 included five thematic discussions on the red flags highlighted. These were as follows: Tax Justice & Domestic Resource Mobilisation; Private Finance; International Public Finance; Debt, trade, systemic issues and technology; and Follow up and Review.

Session 3 included a plenary session where there were report backs from the thematic group discussions. Thereafter discussions by simultaneous working groups on FfD3 regional priorities took place.

The final session included reflections dubbed, ‘Morning after Addis. What comes next?’  This was a very participatory discussion which encapsulated both stock-taking and looking forward in the horizon for feminist and women’s organisations looking at where they would find themselves post-Addis; a look at the links with Post 2015 and other processes at the regional and global level; and what in fact the Addis outcome could mean for the Post 2015 process. This session was summarised by the highlighting of the existing opportunities at regional and global level to advance the links between women’s rights and the FfD agenda.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Emma Kaliya (FEMNET Chairperson) and the Women Working Group co-coordinators echoed the same sentiments. After all is said and done and there is sufficient mobilisation of resources, how will these resources be used to enhance gender equality? What does the governance architecture look like? How will we consistently and persistently mobilise ourselves to ensure that women’s rights are at the heart of development? Yes investing in women makes economic sense, but the current economic model in and of itself undermines addressing women’s rights as basic human rights.

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

Young and Capable: Why Young People Must be at the Centre of Efforts to End Child Marriage

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End CEFMAs I packed my bags to begin a journey that would take me several thousand miles from my hometown in Nairobi to Casablanca, I shuddered at the thought that at the very same moment, a girl not much younger than me would begin a similar journey – an arranged marriage. The marriage would be most likely without her consent. This day would mark the end of her childhood and the beginning of a long nightmare that would quickly become her life. By the time my flight would touch down in Casablanca, 18 hours later, she would probably have consummated a marriage in which neither her mind nor her body was prepared for. The thought of this made me sick to my stomach. With this harsh reality in my mind, I joined fellow participants at the Girls Not Brides members’ meeting, resolute that ending child marriage will not be possible unless and until young people are meaningfully involved and supported.

What is Child Marriage?
Child marriage is global phenomenon defined as a formal marriage or informal union in which one of the spouses is married before the age of 18. While child marriage can affect boys and girls, it disproportionately affects the girl child. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that every year, more than 14 million adolescent and teen girls are married, almost always forced into the arrangement by their parents. It is a violation of young women’s rights and one of a number of harmful practices which harm young women worldwide. The implications of this practice on the lives of girls are many and far-reaching. Child marriage perpetuates the cycle of poverty and deep rooted gender inequalities that often lead to society having a perceived low value for women and girls. When girls are forced to marry, they often drop out of school, face serious health complications and even risk dying from early pregnancy and childbearing, and are at greater risk of HIV infection and intimate partner violence. Child brides are often isolated, with limited opportunity to engage socially and to participate in the economic development of their communities.

Young People Are Saying NO to child marriage
While the problem of child marriage is complex and sensitive, young people hold the potential to catapult worldwide efforts in addressing the problem.

First, child marriage is an issue that directly impacts the lives of young people. As such, we are able to articulate the issues in a way no adult can. Listening to young people’s voices in general is powerful in so many ways. It not only helps create a better, equal and more inclusive society but also allows young people to feel important, empowered and confident to become their own leaders. This is often leads to successful advocacy as recently witnessed in Malawi where young activists played a critical role in raising for the minimum legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years of age in Malawi.

Secondly, young people continue to play a key role in monitoring and averting potential child marriage cases. Where countries have had laws in place to criminalize the practice, young people have been able to support each other by reporting cases of child marriages to the authorities, providing support networks, assisting peers access safe spaces and changing norms and attitudes. In a recent youth survey done by Girls Not Brides, a young participant from Uganda said: “We know who is at risk of child marriage; we hear the conversations that adults do not. Let us be the eyes and ears and the actors demanding that young people are allowed to fulfill their potential”

Lastly, by speaking out against child marriage, young people become strong role models for their peers. Kakenya Ntaiya shares her fearless journey of how escaping child marriage changed her fate forever. Through her story, Kakenya continues to inspire, motivate and empower young girls to pursue education so that they become agents of change. In 2013, she was nominated as a Top 10 CNN Hero, for her work to send girls to school and delay marriage in Enoosaen, a Maasai village in south-west Kenya. Her primary school, Kakenya Center for Excellence, currently hosts over 155 girls.

From small actions at the village level to global advocacy efforts, the positive examples of young change makers working towards ending child marriage in the community are vast and varying.

The Time to Act is NOW!
Engaging young people to end child marriage is not only the right thing to do but it is also the practical thing to do. By tapping into their knowledge and insights, diverse skills in not only mobilizing at different levels but also engaging with different groups and their potential of catalyzing behavior change in the society, the fight to end child marriage can gain a new impetus. This can be successfully nurtured through genuine youth-adult relationships, opportunities that develop meaningful skills though continual capacity building and technical support, access to decision-making platforms and safe spaces that provide emotional and physical security.

As I believe, it is possible to end child marriage in our generation. Together, let us banish child marriage to the books of history, where it belongs.

Follow @Femnetprog @GirlsNotBrides & @felogene on twitter for updates on International Day of The African Child – June 16 2015 . THEME ”25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”

#African Lives Matter

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It’s 8.57 pm on April 15th and I’m seated at the Vienna Cafe at the #UNHQ waiting patiently to hear the results of the negotiations for the day. For the past three days, I have been attending the 48th Session of the Commission on Population and Development. This year’s theme is ‘Integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post – 2015 development agenda.’ My days have been plagued with discussions on key terms and language such as ‘harnessing the demographic dividend’, ‘the right to development’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination’ and ‘putting people at the centre of development.’ While seated here, a colleague @bmunyati, approaches me to review his post, ‘Xenophobia Must Fall! “How can we be silent when our people are being killed? ” I tell him to give me ten minutes as I quickly go through Twitter and news articles on the incidences of Xenophobia currently taking place in South Africa.

At #CPD48, while we argue against the instrumentalization of women and the youth, the need to respect sexual and reproductive rights as human rights that are indivisible and inalienable, another battle is taking place on my beautiful continent Africa. This time, the battle has shifted from an ideological debate to a rallying call for leaders to put an end to Xenophobia, an end to the senseless killings. The attacks against the immigrants from Somalia, DRC, Mozambique, Nigeria and Malawi and recently Pakistan and Bangladesh is an attempt to ‘rectify the wrongs’ in a situation where the immigrants are taking jobs and opportunities away from Black South Africans. A quick review of the literature highlighted that similar attacks took place in 2008 where over 60 people were left dead and hundreds more were displaced. The attacks were rumored to have begun when the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini was quoted saying the foreigners should pack their bags and leave. He claims that his words were taken out of context but reports have recorded the attackers saying, ‘The King has spoken.’

I am tempted to say we have a crisis of leadership in Africa… From all corners of the continent infact. We recently marked one year since over 200 girls were kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria and they are yet to all get back home safe. Two weeks ago, 148 students in Kenya were killed while studying at Garissa University. Since then, the Kenyan government is working on building a wall that divides Somalia and Kenya and plans to send refugees back to Somalia.

In North Africa, North Africa, women’s human rights defenders are jailed and killed for advocating for non-discrimination and an end to violence…and now this. How much more can we take before deciding to rise up in large numbers? How long will we continue to sit in silence and watch OUR AFRICA crumble. It begs the question, is Africa truly rising? The African Union, Department of Political Affairs says, “Xenophobia erodes AU’s shared values on human and people’s rights and principles of continental unity, integration and Pan-Africanism”. Where then are our leaders? What are they doing to safeguard Mwalimu Nyerere’s vision of a United Africa? @TamukaKagoro77 says that, “Afrophobia and Xenophobia are maladies that infect the literate but ignorant among us. I tend to agree. So as others boycott South African products such as DSTV, I choose not to be silent. I choose to call on other Africans to stand in solidarity with the majority of Black South Africans who see xenophobia as injustice and not abandon them in their time of need.

While we continue negotiating on the importance of integrating population issues into the next development framework, we must put people at the centre of development discourse free from discrimination. Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s rights states, “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.”

We must put an end to this prejudice and hatred. Xenophobia must stop!

By Yvette Kathurima, Head of Advocacy at FEMNET and can be reached on twitter @wamburay

Faiza on SOAWR & the #MaputoProtocol

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Faiza

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!

 

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.