Tag Archives: accountability

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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News on Freedom of Information (FOI) in Africa

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Call it ‘freedom of information (FOI)’ or ‘access to information’ or ‘right to know’ or ‘right to information’ – it is a fundamental and undeniable basic human right. Now, the right to access public information is the right of every person to know, to have access to the information s/he needs to make free choices and to live an autonomous life. The 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights reaffirms the ‘fundamental importance of freedom of expression and information as an individual human right, as a cornerstone of democracy and as a means of ensuring respect for all human rights and freedoms’.

Indeed, access to information is an enabling right, a vital tool in realizing a variety of other political, social and economic human rights. Freedom of or access to information is a core standard for participatory democracies in view of the fact that, only a well-versed population can effectively contribute to the construction of governments and political institutions. The relationship between information and power is profound. Without information, the people have no power to make choices about their government – e.g. no ability to meaningfully participate in the decision-making process, to hold their governments accountable, to thwart corruption, to reduce poverty, or ultimately, to live in a genuine democracy. According to UNESCO, “11 (eleven) African countries have passed national FOI laws (Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe), while draft FOI laws in other African states are at different stages in the process towards their adoption. The implementation of FOI legislation in Africa has faced several challenges.”

For women’s rights organizations, the right of access to information would capacitate women and girls to effectively influence financing for health, service delivery, compete favorably in the economic market, promote and protect their human rights including access to land and ownership, make decisions concerning their sexual and reproductive health, among others.

Since 2009, FEMNET has been championing collective participation of women’s rights organizations in lobbying for the enactment and implementation of FOI laws in their countries. This year, we are keen to highlight the latest updates/news and keep the momentum especially in supporting the enactment of FOI laws as well as increasing awareness amongst women’s rights organizations in linking women’s rights issues to FOI laws. Click these links below to read and share with others.

For more information/feedback please contact Isabella Ngarurirwe, FEMNET’s FK Fellow (2015/2016) ingarurirwe2@gmail.com

Finance Her Future: Gender Responsive Budgeting

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By Nyaguthii Wangui Maina*

(Pic Credits: World Bank Group)

(Pic Credits: World Bank Group)

As the Third International Conference on Financing for Development drew to a close last week, two messages that rang through the discussions when it came to achieving Gender Equality was that firstly, there is need for gender responsive tax and budgeting; and secondly,  more money is required for women’s mobilization groups, especially those working at the grassroots level.

However, what is gender responsive budgeting? What does it ideally look like? Was it reflected in the text of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda outcome document?

Borrowing from the analysis of UN Women, national development plans and strategies identify development priorities and articulate how these will be implemented, financed and monitored. Often, gender equality commitments are not adequately considered or included during the design, implementation and financing stages of planning. Despite efforts to formulate national action plans for gender equality and sectoral gender strategies, these are rarely integrated in national development priority setting and plans. Implementing gender equality commitments requires governments to take a series of actions including formulating policies that remove gender-based discrimination and guarantee women’s rights. Such actions require financial resources, institutional capacity and accountability systems that should be integrated in national plans and budgets in order to enable implementation.

Ministries of Finance have the mandate to set up public finance management systems, define budget ceilings and ensure sound macro-economic frameworks. Gender analysis supports ministries of finance to make better budget choices by highlighting existing gender gaps and the impact of public expenditures and revenue-raising on women and girls.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was anticipated to be an instrument that would deliver in addressing some of the gender financing gaps as well as unlock the barriers. Did it deliver as much? Arguably no.

In their very well-articulated Op-ed in the Guardian, Ana Ines Abelenda and Nerea Craviotto argue that the text is almost entirely devoid of specific proposals that can be swiftly implemented to champion for women’s rights and address gender inequality. In my opinion the text has also to a large extent strongly diverted attention from the role of states in removing the global obstacles to development abdicating their duties through public finance and domestic resource mobilization to the heavily dominated and unregulated private sector.

The two cement this concern and reverberate succinctly as follows, “Rather than encouraging states to remove obstacles to development, mobilize official development assistance and commit adequate public resources, this approach puts the emphasis on private sector contributions,” – the very same sector that is highly unregulated and has evidently exacerbated women’s rights in the social and economic sectors. The article continues, “As a result, little attention is given to structural barriers to women’s economic rights or their ability to access, own and control economic resources. The unequal distribution of unpaid care work, poor access to health care services and natural resources, persistent gender discrimination in the labour market – all went largely ignored by the Addis delegates.”

“In addition, many OECD governments are shying away from aid commitments, preferring instead to rely on private sector contributions in the form of foreign direct investment and public-private partnerships. Again, this is problematic. As the women’s working group argues, private sector activities, including public-private partnerships, are promoted in the Addis agenda with scant regard for accountability mechanisms to uphold human rights standards, including environmental and social safeguards. Moreover, insufficient attention has been paid to the cost of public-private partnerships and the quality of services and infrastructure they will deliver.”

It is indeed common knowledge that national fiscal & tax systems must undergo deep reforms in order to ensure fairness and progressivity and as Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, Executive Director UN Women articulated, “To close persistent gender gaps in health, education, employment, justice, and decision-making, the chronic underinvestment in women and girls must be urgently reversed.” 

Is the fight over? From the various arguments written during and after the conference, I would say the general mood is that it is far from it; social justice advocates have chosen to see the conference as a foundation to address inequalities within and among states and particularly in championing for girls and women’s rights. Financing their future is a reality, but the work has only just begun. Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International put it well when she stated as follows, “Citizens from all around the world must continue to challenge rigged rules that favor vested interests, and governments must listen. 2015 can still deliver the change we need towards a fairer future.”

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

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

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By Nyaguthii Wangui Maina*

Untitled

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.

Amina Mama on Militarism

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amina-mama

“Development is about people, not guns. No amount of military power can bring about security in the absence of food, water, healthcare, affordable energy, decent work and a decent environment – all those things that have been enshrined in over half a century of lofty declarations, but which remain elusive in the former colonies. Needless to say surveys confirm that women do define security differently from men – not in terms of all-male armies and arsenals of weapons, or even in terms of national border policing– but in terms of security from poverty, and epidemics of disease,  in terms of freedom from violence and the fear of violence. Women –whose bodies are so often abused by men to spite other men – define security in terms of bodily integrity, that is freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation. For us rape is not just a ‘”weapon of war” but an endemic feature of our unjust and patriarchal societies, where misogyny lives in peacetime as well as in war-time.

Many of us have direct or indirect experiences of war, conflict and military rule. The appalling consequences this has for our societies and for future generations has compelled many women to work for de-militarization and peace. This was evident in the work of the women’s movements in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where women played key roles in ending disastrous conflicts during which men specifically targeted women’s and children’s bodies for rape, mutilation and other violations designed to terrorize ordinary people. Women’s movements continue to work against the long-term social and economic consequences of war and other violent attacks on communities, in ways that deserve far more support than they are currently getting.”

Excerpts from an interview of Amina Mama by Hakima Abbas  on the Feminist Wire – read the full interview here.

#Justice4Osebe

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As the entire world observes UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the beginning of 16 Day of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we are tragically yet again reminded that the right to life is a basic human right that is often violated.

A 4-year-old girl Anita Osebe Moi was robbed of this extremely important human right. She will never grow up to fulfill her dreams and actualize her full potential because she is no more.

Please sign the petition here.

We are extremely appalled and in the strongest terms possible condemn the rape that led to the subsequent murder of 4-year-old Osebe. This deeply disturbing, cruel, inhuman and gruesome incident took place at Iringa village, Tabaka Ward, Kisii County, Kenya on 8 October 2014.

The cause of Osebe’s death was revealed by results of a postmortem done at Tabaka Mission Hospital on 30 October 2014 confirming that she died from acute heart failure as a result of defilement and sodomy. Osebe was laid to rest at her parents’ home in Iringa village on Friday October 31st 2014. The defilement and subsequent murder of Osebe MUST be vehemently condemned by ALL Kenyans and world citizens of goodwill.

We also condemn what the family of Osebe and community members are noting as a slow response by the local law enforcement systems to thoroughly investigate and apprehend the known suspect when he emerged as a suspect in this matter before he went into hiding. Given the gravity of the offense, the suspect is a serious threat to public safety and particularly so to children.

The suspect must be apprehended as soon as possible to help ease community tensions and the deep sense of insecurity and vulnerability that prevails within the Iringa and Tabaka Ward community at large. Life in Iringa village is not the same. There is great fear particularly amongst children that what happened to Osebe could happen to them. WE WANT JUSTICE AND WE WANT IT NOW!

This case is just one in thousands that highlights the challenges and difficulties survivors of sexual violence in Kenya face daily. The rampant defilement of minors particularly girls in Kenya coupled with a very low prosecution rate when cases are reported is deeply disturbing and a fact that led to the ‘Equality Effect’ 160 Girls project in Eastern Kenya that revealed that every 30 minutes, a girl or woman is raped in Kenya and that there is a high prevalence of sexual violence against children in “the whole country.”

Kenya must uphold the rights of all its citizens and protect women and girls from sexual violence, in line with the 2010 Constitution, the Sexual Offenses Act, the Penal Code, and its obligations under regional and international human rights instruments. Kenya has ratified a number of international and regional human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual violence, including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Protocol obliges member states to “adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure the protection of every woman’s right to respect for her dignity and protection of women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence” and to “ensure the prevention, punishment and eradication of all forms of violence against women.” Furthermore, the Protocol requires that Kenya establish “mechanisms and accessible services for effective information, rehabilitation and reparation for victims” and direct adequate State resources towards the implementation and monitoring of preventative action.

Tragically, the 2006 Sexual Offences Act’s “effectiveness has been marred by poor enforcement due to failure of the police to investigate complaints of sexual violence or arrest the perpetrators.” Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors.

It is unfortunate that several weeks after the murder of Osebe we must be moved to call upon our leaders to take action, knowing that they have the mandate and the power to ensure a swift professional investigation, subsequent apprehension and prosecution of the individual that committed this grossly abhorrent act that so brutally took Osebe’s life.

Our leaders’ immediate response to this call to action will not only demonstrate to Osebe’s family but the entire country and indeed the world that Kenya and Kisii County in particular are serious about addressing the prevalent issue of violence against girls and women.

Please join us in signing this petition to call upon the following Kenyan government officials to ensure a swift and thorough investigation into the gruesome defilement and subsequent murder of Anita Osebe Moi leading to the capture and prosecution of the individual that committed this heinous act. Furthermore, call on these officials to urgently ensure the realization of the Kenyan government’s obligation to prevent and eradicate sexual violence, while ensuring justice for all survivors.

– Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice and Head of the National Council for the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) – chiefjustice@judiciary.go.ke @WMutunga
– Keriako Tobiko, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) -keriako.tobiko@odpp.go.ke @ODPP_KE
– Hon. Winfred Lichuma, Chairperson, National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) – info@ ngeckenya.org
– H. E. William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya -dp@deputypresident.go.ke, @WilliamsRuto
– Anne Waiguru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution & Planning -info@devolutionplanning.go.ke, @AnneWaiguru

We cannot continue to lose girls or any child for that matter as a result of sexual violence. This MUST STOP NOW! We call upon all Kenyans and world citizens of goodwill to stand with Osebe’s family at this very difficult time of great loss and grief by signing this petition demanding that the Kenyan government apprehends the known suspect as a matter of urgency and ensures that justice is served.

Thank you so much for your support and may justice be served!

Join us on Facebook

Please amplify this message on social media using the hashtag #Justice4Osebe

Endorsers:

– The Tabaka Ward ‘Uongozi Wa Utu Project’ – FEMNET (The African Women’s Development and Communications Network) – Young Women Leaders Institute (YWLI) – Njagi and Nyaboke Advocates’ (Jane Nyaboke Matoke, Advocate of the High Court of Kenya) – Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) – Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter – Equality Now.

cc:

– H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta C.G.H. President and Commander in Chief of The Defence Forces of The Republic of Kenya – @UKenyatta info@president.go.ke
– Office of the First Lady, State House – fl.secretariat@president.go.ke, @FirstLadyKenyaHon
– Hon. David Kimaiyo, Inspector General of the Kenya Police -kimaiyodm@ymail.com, knfp.info@gmail.com @IGKimaiyo; @PoliceKE
– Hon. Prof. Githu Muigai, Attorney General, oagpcomms@kenya.go.ke
– Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior & Coordination of – National Government, joelenku@gmail.com
– Jacinta Nyamosi, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions – @ODPP_KE
– H.E. James Ongwae, Governor Kisii County – governor@kisii.go.ke, @JamesOngwae
– H.E. Joash Maangi, Deputy Governor Kisii County -deputygovernor@kisii.go.ke
– Commissioner Chege Mwangi, Kisii County Commissioner
– Commander Moses Kanyi, OCPD, Gucha South Sub County
– Jane Mbera, Area Chief, Iringa Sub –location, Tabaka Ward
– Hon. Josephine Ombati, Chairperson Kisii County Assembly Women’s Caucus
– Hon. Mary Otara, Kisii County Women’s Representative
– Hon. Daniel Ombasa Apepo, Minority Leader Kisii County & MCA, Tabaka Ward
– Hon. Manson Nyamweya, South Mugirango Member of Parliament
– Hon. Janet Ong’era, Senator Kisii County
– Hon. Chris Obure, Senator Kisii County
– Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights – haki@knchr.org; complaint@knchr.org
– Patricia Nyaundi, Secretary to the Commission, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights – haki@knchr.org; complaint@knchr.org
– Prof. Rose Odhiambo, HSC, CEO/Commission Secretary, National Gender and Equality Commission- info@ ngeckenya.org
– Hon. Cecily Mbarire, Chairperson, Kenya Women Parliamentary Association,info@kewopa.org
– Chairman of the Council of Governors, info@cog.go.ke

Let’s Talk about Power, Violence and Men in Crisis

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By Sam Rosmarin*

This week, hundreds of Kenyans marched in downtown Nairobi chanting “My Dress, My Choice” in response to recent violent public attacks on women. On the surface, these attacks focused on the indecent attire of the victims, while the march focused on the freedom of women to dress how they please. While I laud the marchers for putting this issue into the public space, I can’t help but think their slogans are misguided. By centering their slogans on dress, the activists allowed Kenya to slip into the wrong conversation: a debate on morality and appropriate attire.

These conversations aren’t inherently bad, but I believe they are wasted opportunities to confront the real issues of power and violence.

When a mob of men strips a woman naked for being “indecent” in public, this is an act of power not morality. Let’s be honest: if it were truly about the moral horror of seeing too much skin, this mob of men would have thrown a blanket to cover the victim instead of exposing even more of her skin. If this were truly about morality, men wouldn’t be drawing parallels between a women in a mini-skirt and a bank asking to be robbed. Echoing many other voices, one man tweeted: “You intentionally seduce the male folk with your attire, deprive them of the treasure, yet cry foul when raped. #MyDressMyChoice is ridiculous!” Our first reaction to such a quote is probably to point out his objectification of women and his misplaced entitlement. “How dare men feel sexually entitled to women’s bodies,” we say. As activists and as citizens, we need to dig deeper and realize how powerless someone must feel to come to that conclusion. A viewpoint like that is forged in the societal fires of patriarchy – a forge that tells him what a real man is (powerful, dominant, virile) and warns him of what a real man is not (weak, compassionate, impotent).

Exerting power through violence is a surefire way to demonstrate your masculinity and, as one commentator rightly pointed out: “power-as-violence is the central organizing principle in the Kenyan public sphere.” Changing the status quo requires us to place these dynamics of power and violence at the center of our outrage and to form our solutions around dismantling this destructive nexus.

What does a focus on power and violence mean in practice? How can we adopt better advocacy practices?

In general, we should:

  1. Focus our slogans on the key issue: violence. “Freedom From Violence” is a more accurate slogan than “Our Dress, Our Choice” because the real transgression was the violent reaction, not the moral judgment.
  2. Focus on the roots of masculinity to encourage our societies to critically analyze the expectations we place on men. The dozens of men participating in these marches is a good sign, as well as an entry point to a broader conversation.
  3. Find non-traditional allies, particularly in religious institutions. Make it difficult for opponents to hide behind religious texts and other static documents that are open to broad interpretation, but claimed definitively by one side.
  4. Build from the bottom by supporting women’s expanded participation in traditionally male spaces such as politics and corporate businesses. This leverages power structures created by men.
  5. Finally, help your opponents visualize an infinite pie that expands with gender equality. Argue that everything from individual sex lives to national economic growth will improve with gender equality and freedom from violence.

*Sam Rosmarin is a strategy advisor based in Addis Ababa. Follow him on Twitter: @SamRosmarin