Tag Archives: african women’s decade

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.

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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.

My Body, My Choice

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In response to the incidence on November 7, 2014 whereby a woman was stripped in Nairobi, CBD for wearing a miniskirt, we shall hold a peaceful procession from Uhuru Park to Accra Road (Nairobi) on Monday 17th November at 10am. We shall go and deliver a message to the touts who stripped our sister that it is wrong and a woman has a right to dress the way she wants.

We urge you and your daughters to join and support us. We will meet on Monday at 10am at Uhuru Park and march peacefully to Embassava. This is our chance to stand together as women and deliver a message to our country that sexual violence and violations of our bodily integrity and dignity will not be tolerated. 

In order for this to happen we need your help. Ways you can stand with us:
1. Show up and walk with us  – RSVP here (not necessary but useful for us)​
2. Tell your networks ​ – share with everyone​: we want thousands of women
​3. Sign the petition ​
​4. Help us in kind resources: printing t-shirts sponsorships etc. Whatever you can help with.
​5. A financial contribution. We need funds to buy t-shirts, pay for security, placards etc. even the smallest contribution counts. (Contributions to be sent to Ruth Kmaust 0701994107)
​6. Join us online – #MyBodyMyChoice and #StripMeNot – make noise! ​


All are welcome to this walk- support your sisters, daughters, mothers and wives – your fellow human beings!

Join us Monday at 10am! “
 
Naomi Mwaura
naomimwaura@ymail.com


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

On Beijing+20 – How we must move forward

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By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

November is a month of collective local and global reflection about women’s rights, empowerment and equality as we review the Beijing Commitment. I share with you my thoughts and some of the issues that have been sitting in my belly as I reflect on the journey from 1995 to the present.

Beijing agenda was a feminist agenda. It was about discourse on power and patriarchy; resources and opportunities for women; our knowledge and innovations. It was about women shaping communities, defining peace and development agenda. It was about  women as citizens, shareholders and stakeholders. I was young and breastfeeding; I felt that I can change the world. I knew that government and others have to play their role and be accountable, but essentially I believed in my own agency and that of my sisters, I found my voice, validated my lived experiences and did shake of a number of labels that confined and restricted my identity and my potential. I hope that in Addis, we will rise beyond the technocratic arguments, of crossing the t’s and REALLY reclaim our African feminist voice…beyond gender mainstreaming.

The Beijing Platform for action was about WOMEN! Gender equality was a subset and an ideal to work towards; as we sort to ensure that WOMEN and girls have rights and dignity. I often worry, especially these days when the Beijing review is reduced to a review on extent towards achieving “gender equality”. I think the goal post was about women having opportunities, choices and possibilities in life, and as we work towards these, we will be reducing the gender inequality gap. I just hope that Africa will reclaim the agenda and reframe the conversation so that at the centre is the WOMAN! I often find ourselves losing the focus on women and girls, in all our diversity in the pursuit of the elusive yet important equality ideal.

I do anticipate that in the Civil Society meetings, and in even the government meetings, there will be a lamentation about MEN. Someone will definitely ask “Where are the men?”.This for me is often not the right question. I assume that those men who understand, are supportive and convinced of the agenda will be in the room with us. I just find the whole discussion a distraction from the real focus which should be on male RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY. Men are there always there, every day and in everything, in our families and our lives. Men are the majority in parliaments, making policies and approving budget; they are in board rooms, defining resources allocation and employment options; they head key sectors services such as education, agriculture and health, making far reaching daily decisions on access to services; men led in media organisation defining public opinion and shaping the discourse; and lead in the faith and cultural institutions driving the norms and the values of society. Men are involved, they simply need to be responsive to women’s rights in their daily lives.  It is in these spaces that we expect them to deliver for women’s rights and gender equality, in their everyday space of decision making.

My sisters, we must go beyond the traditional thinking, that women’s issues are only social and micro! Yes, the social sectors are fundamental, as it is the space within which we reproduce society. However, we should step up and make the women’s agenda in Africa MACRO and MACRO. We should talk about women in mining, construction, trade and finance; women defining technology. For instance, the women’s market in Africa should not be viewed as micro, requiring micro credit, but MACRO demanding huge investments and prioritisation. We must claim our global citizenship as define our local actions.

Africa is rising and we must shape a new narrative that goes beyond  Africa’s labels of poverty, starvation, disease, death and wars.  I hope we can all work on a clear re-articulation of Africa, and reclaim how the continent is filthy rich even if the African women and girls are licking the spoon. Yes, we have to demand our government to invest more in health care (ebola and HIV crisis); etc; and this should be from a perspective of building a prosperous Africa at peace with itself, and not from a hand to mouth and humanitarian lets save lives perspectives.

Africa is more than its borders. The seed of Africa is on all the continents, if we count from the shipment of ancestors to far-off lands during the slave trade, the plunder of Africa and its people during colonialism and now the new diaspora and wave of economic and political migrants. The discourse on Beijing for Africa should embrace and seek solidarity with issues of women and girls of African descent, and turn the brain drain of the continent into the brain grain.

It’s about Inter-generational justice. I hope as we celebrate Beijing, and the road Mama Getrude Mongella and others paved, we will be lifting the leadership, voice and capabilities of young women and girls. For us to unleash such potential, we have to really recommit, roll up our sleeves and address some of the unacceptable human rights violations and practices such as child marriage, which I know we can end in a single generation.

I understand there will be No Agreed Conclusions at CSW59, but a Political Declaration. Therefore we have to be clear about what we are demanding and asking of our governments. Lets call for FULFILLMENT of the Beijing commitments accompanied by an ACCOUNTABILITY and a RESOURCING Framework. Yes, we need a stand-alone goal on gender equality with clear means of implementation.

I share these thoughts as I honour the many women who inspire me every day in the YWCAs; each one of you as my sisters; my late mother, Rozaria and daughter Farirai.  Unfortunately, I am unable to join you in Addis this time.

I celebrate you, wish you strength and courage. Africa is indeed rising. You are Afrika.  Arise.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the General Secretary of YWCA. Connect with her @vanyaradzayi. 

#TheAfricaWeWant Tweetathon May 26

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#TheAfricaWeWant

In celebration of “Africa Day”, Make Every Woman Count and FEMNET are inviting you to join us on twitter and facebook on the 26th May to share with us the Africa you want by using the hashtag #TheAfricaWeWant.

Don’t feel constrained by the characters – you can send us poetry, songs, articles, pictures, blog posts. Simply tag them with #TheAfricaWeWant and if possible, send a link to them on twitter.

Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was later, renamed African Union.

African women and men across the world are using the Internet to voice their opinions and call for an end to injustice everywhere.

As organizations that seek to facilitate the growing magnitude of African women voices in the online public stage, this campaign will be a medium by which African women can participate and engage in Africa Day with their full voice.

Our collaboration and solidarity is crucial to the advancement of the women’s agenda in Africa and in getting women’s voices to be heard and building a more sustainable future for all.

Now more than ever, we are at a time of evaluations and new initiatives. The deadline for the MDGs is fast approaching in 2015 and the African Women’s Decade has half way through. The international community met during the end of 2012 in Rio to set a new development agenda: ”The Future We Want.” So far, it is possible to conclude that the goals of the African Women’s Decade to ensure “the execution of commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment from the grassroots, national and regional to continental level” is far from being realised. The Millennium Development Goals will only to a small degree be fulfilled. It is estimated that there will still be 920 million people living under the international poverty line, of which the majority will be women and youth. With the Common Africa Position on Post 2015 and Agenda 2063 emerging as Africa’s development priorities – what is #TheAfricaWeWant? Is it quality healthcare, is it safe spaces and schools, is it the freedom to participate in the political arena? Is it the freedom to be free from violence and oppression? The opportunity to set up a business without too much red tape? An Africa that doesn’t have to worry about illicit financial flows?

We still have a long way to go. The outcomes of Rio +20 can hardly be called a success. Even as gender issues are widely accepted as central to any and all development agendas, the governments at Rio +20 failed to recognise the centrality of reproductive rights in sustainable development.  The high-level event at Rio +20, which brought together UN Women’s committees and heads of state, produced a call to action with concrete policy recommendations on integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment in all sustainable development frameworks. Nonetheless, the omission of reproductive rights in this ‘call to action’ is a major step backwards.

Now is the time to take a stand. Africans who speak out against inequality, whose voices have largely been ignored, must be given the platform to speak, to set new goals and to get involved. No leader or policy-maker in the world can know what African women and girls actually want, need, or even what works, if the group is denied access to the world’s microphone.

Join us online as we discuss #TheAfricaWeWant.

Please use the hashtag #TheAfricaWeWant  #myAWD

African Women in Power/Politics – Call for Abstracts

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AWJ ImageCall for Abstracts

The African Women’s Journal Issue 8

“African Women in Power/Politics: Are we Rising?

Africa is currently home to three of the world’s twelve female heads of state. The only place in the world where parliament is dominated by women is an African country; Rwanda. Uganda boasts the youngest parliamentarian in the world, who became an MP at the age of 19. Several African countries have surpassed the 30% Beijing benchmark of women’s representation in legislatures. Additionally, the premier continental body; the African Union Commission is headed for the first time by a woman and has consistently implemented its gender parity policy at the level of Commissioners. These gains have been the result of a number of initiatives, policies, and legal instruments aimed at increasing the number and/or quality of women’s representation.

Although much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go in ensuring meaningful and equitable representation of women in the political arena. In some cases, the gains have been reversed. In what context can these reversals in certain countries and at various levels be understood?

While Africa presents some impressive statistics, what are the deeper individual and collective experiences of past, aspiring or current office holders? How do we ensure the numbers translate into effective, gender-responsive, socially just and equitable policies? Is there a defining or ideal model of female leadership by which we evaluate their performance? What are some of the persistent and structural as well as emerging obstacles and challenges women face as they engage in the political arena? How do we engage and transform existing political structures and systems (electoral commissions, political parties etc)? What is a possible forward-looking strategy for ensuring visionary, transformative leadership?

The eighth edition of the African Women’s Journal seeks to dissect political leadership by African women at all levels. Submissions may wish to focus on stock taking, personal journeys and reflections, comparative analysis, thinking and approaches to political participation and leadership of women, mapping and assessment of existing initiatives to enhance women’s leadership in politics and policy impacts/outcomes of women’s leadership. Submissions are particularly encouraged from women in or previously in power/politics, those who aspire to positions of political leadership and those who work closely in this area.

For those interested to submit articles, kindly send an ABSTRACT of your article by Monday, May 12th, 2014 to communication@femnet.or.ke copying library@femnet.or.ke with the subject; Submission – African Women’s Journal.  The abstract should be written in English or French and must not be more than 200 words.

You will be notified if your abstract has been selected. Only writers with selected abstracts will be asked to submit a full article, which must be written in English or French and should be between 1,000 to 1,500 words. The article needs to be well researched with clear referencing. Deadline for submission of FULL ARTICLE will be Friday, June 6th 2014. A few of the selected articles will have an opportunity to present at the Women in Political Leadership Convening taking place in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire from November 10-12, 2014.

Please note the following key deadlines:
Abstract should be submitted by 15th May, 2014
Full Article should be submitted by 6th June, 2014

*In Partnership with Urgent Action Fund-Africa

Access previous editions of the African Women’s Journal here –our latest ones:

Pan-Africanism & the Women’s Movement(Issue 6)
Shaping our Collective Futures: The Africa We Want(Issue 7)

Shaping Our Collective Futures – Call for Abstracts

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AWJ Image“Shaping Our Collective Futures: Agenda 2063, ICPD+20 & Post 2015

The African Women’s Journal Issue 7: July – December 2013

Much of the global development in the past decade and a half has been pegged on the Millennium Development Goals that came to be in 2000 with an expiry date of 2015. As 2015 approaches, efforts are underway to shape a global development agenda – the Post 2015 agenda – one meant to be inclusive, consultative and participatory. This agenda also encompasses work around the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which emerged from Rio+20. Review of 20 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+20), perhaps the most comprehensive global approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights, is also underway. In an unfriendly environment, will the review propel us forward, or will it have us reversing gains made 20 years prior in Cairo? As the world deliberates on these agendas, Africa is keen to shape her own – dubbed Agenda 2063. In 50 years, what kind of Africa can we envision, and then proceed to achieve?

What is the world that we want? Not only for ourselves, but for our children, and their children’s children (if we choose to have them). What are our non-negotiables? What agenda will see us truly transforming the worlds in which we live? What would it take to realize our visions? What factors will enable us not simply to survive, but to thrive?

The seventh and special edition of the African Women’s Journal will seek to address such issues. Submissions are particularly encouraged from communities whose voices have often been silenced, including, but not limited to: those living with disabilities, pastoralist communities, slum dwellers, rural, indigenous, religious or ethnic minorities.

For those interested to submit articles, kindly send an ABSTRACT of your article by Friday, September 13th, 2013 to communication@femnet.or.ke copying library@femnet.or.ke. The abstract should be written in English or French and must not be more than 200 words.

You will be notified if your abstract has been selected. Only writers with selected abstracts will be asked to submit a full article, which must be written in English or French and should be between 1,000 to 1,500 words. The article needs to be well researched with clear referencing. Deadline for submission of FULL ARTICLE will be 4th October, 2013.

Please note the following key deadlines:
Abstract should be submitted by 13th September, 2013
Full Article should be submitted by 4th October, 2013

Access previous editions of the African Women’s Journal here – including our latest on Pan-Africanism & the Women’s Movement!

Let’s keep the African Women’s Decade Alive!