Tag Archives: #Post2015

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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On Making Promises to Women & Girls: It’s Time for Authentic Realization

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The Africa We Want

Recent headlines have been bleak for women and girls in the developing world: the Islamic State runs a system of sex slaves for its recruits; terrorists in Nigeria kidnap girls to marry their soldiers; women can be shot for going to school or splashed with acid if their in-laws don’t like their dowries. Amid these and other grim reports is the heartening news of an international agreement to do better for women and girls worldwide: the United Nations’ new 2030 Development Agenda.

Agreed upon by UN member States in early August and set for formal UN adoption next month, the 2030 Agenda emerged from more than two years of difficult negotiations on pledges that member countries will make to build upon the Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year. The MDGs guided real investments that made serious progress against poverty, but women’s needs and interests got short shrift. The new framework of 17 goals and 169 targets has the promise of being truly transformative for women and girls around the world.

It addresses gender equality much more robustly than the MDGs did and recognizes achieving gender equality as a goal in itself and not just a means to achieving other development goals. Crucially, it recognizes the issue as cutting across every economic and social question and as central to ending poverty due to the gendered dynamics of poverty. Governments have made lofty commitments: to end sex discrimination, gender-based violence, child marriages and female genital mutilation; to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services; to protect women’s and girls’ reproductive rights; to recognize and value the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls; to expand women’s economic opportunities and ensure their rights to resources; and to ensure equal access to education, eliminating gender disparities in schools.

It is a tall agenda, not to say a visionary dream, for millions of women and girls worldwide. But if these fine words translate into any serious action by the 193 UN member countries, the prioritization of women’s rights will ensure that inequalities are at least addressed, if not ended. That alone would be progress.

In Africa, however, we remain concerned that a lack of political will may undermine if not block the redistribution of wealth, power, resources and opportunities that is key to the process. We worry, for example, that during the 2030 Agenda negotiations, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon consistently called for removal of language on gender equality, reproductive rights, recognition of human rights and non-discrimination for all. We remain hopeful and encouraged by the majority of African Governments that saw the need for gender equality and women’s rights and joined other progressive states across the globe to support the gender equality agenda. We are inspired by the strong voices of African women and girls that constantly held their governments accountable and pushed for an ambitious transformative agenda from the beginning of the consultations and negotiations to the last hour of the negotiations.

This and similar foot-dragging elsewhere fly in the face of the January 2014 agreement by African heads of state on the Common African Position, which said “No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” The heads of state specifically highlighted the critical links among gender equality, women’s rights, women’s empowerment and Africa’s structural transformation.

Other agreements with similar terms promising action for women include 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 and The Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases.

Isn’t it time for governments to live up to these promises? We call on African leaders to integrate them and the related parts of the 2030 Agenda into their domestic political processes and policies and – most importantly – to allocate adequate and sufficient resources (financial, technical and human). Such concrete steps won’t stop extremists and terrorists from continued abuses of women’s human rights, but they will build a stronger foundation for the millions of people who are not extremists and wish only peace and economic security for themselves and their families.

This is why we welcome the 2030 Development Agenda. With a real commitment, it has the potential to transform Africa and the world by realizing women’s and girls’ rights and the achievement of gender equality.

The author, Dinah Musindarwezo is the Executive Director of FEMNET (the African Women’s Development and Communication Network), a pan-African membership organization working to advance women’s rights and amplify African women’s voices across Africa since its inception in 1988. Dinah Musindarwezo is a feminist who is passionate about advocating for gender equality and human rights for all. Connect with Dinah at director@femnet.or.ke and/or @DinahRwiza.

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.

#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

Education Under Attack: #147NotJustaNumber #BringBackOurGirls

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By Felogene Anumo

“Getting a good education is my best bet out of poverty,” said a 16- year old in Narok county in Kenya. Yet, on that fateful morning of 2nd April 2005 at Garissa University in Kenya, the dreams of 147 lives and their families were shattered into pieces. As I followed the events unfolding that morning and subsequent media coverage, I was overcome by a deep sadness and anger by the loss of young lives. Lives of young people and families who were filled with hope and promise that education brings.

Education Under Attack

We live in a world characterized by uncertainty, complexity and rapid change. For many young people, and more often in developing countries, education is the base and its importance for self and society cannot be overstated. For me, the decision of attackers to target institutions of learning where tolerance, co-existence and unity is fostered is both frightening and enraging. The Kenyan attack comes at a time when just a few months back, 20 teachers were killed in Mandera on their way to Nairobi for the Christmas break.

Bring Back Our Girls - One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET
Bring Back Our Girls – One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET

Regionally, we have witnessed similar attacks by extremists. Tomorrow, 14 April 2015, marks one year since the schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria were abducted by militant group, Boko Haram.  Despite a global campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, more than 300 young women are still under the hands of their abductors since their abduction from their school dormitories. A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls. Globally, the world is still recovering from the massacre in Peshawar School in December 2014 that shook the entire world.

When education institutions are targeted or attacked, the damage and its consequences can be major and far-reaching. Notably, the current waves of attacks have had negative ramifications on the education sectors. For example, in Northern Kenya, many teachers have fled and have abandoned their jobs because of the increasing insecurity threat despite numerous reassurances from the Government on their safety. Nigeria on the other hand has the highest number of out of school children. Amnesty International publication “keep away from schools or we’ll kill you” reports that the insecurity generated by the constant attacks and fighting in Borno and other states in the north-eastern Nigeria led many parents to send their children away or leave the state, disrupting their education. Up to, 15,000 children in Borno State have stopped attending classes. The psycho-social effect of the attacks ensures that impact is felt by many people beyond the actual victims causing high levels of fear and stress. Ultimately, the longer-term impact of targeted and persistent attacks on education undermine social and economic development as they contribute to educational fragility and state inequalities.

In developing counties, families overcome various challenges to ensure that their loved ones get higher education. According to a UNESCO report, more than half of the world’s out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than one in five (22%) primary school-age children in the region have either never attended school or left before completing primary school. This is majorly due to perceptions of low quality education with poor outcomes for families, direct costs related to schooling and indirect loss in terms of losing a source of labour, especially for young women and girls.  Isn’t it enough that families of the Garissa victims overcame these various challenges to be in the University? What more can compound the already existing challenges to get an education than the risk of abduction, sexual violence and loss of life?

We Shall Overcome

The triumph against terrorism will require collective responsibility. Global leaders are currently concretizing what promises to be the benchmark of the development agenda in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Right to Quality Education must remain a high priority in the proposed goals, targets and indicators, and must address all obstacles in the quest of good education. Above all, leaders must recognize that peace is a necessity for education.Together, we must strive to keep at bay these forces that endanger our dreams and aspiration of having a strong, educated and sustainable world with limitless opportunities for young people.

To the families of the victims and survivors of the terrible ordeal, you remain in our payers and our hearts.  In this trying time, let us cling on to the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, a young feminist and socialist activist who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school” So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Join me in sending condolences to the families of the victims and survivors of the Garissa attack. #147notjustanumber

Credit REUTERS Goran Tomasevic
Photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Felogene Anumo is a young feminist and a member of FEMNET. Connect with her @Felogene or fganumo@gmail.com

Implement #MaputoProtocol NOW!

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SOAWR Post Card_Page_3

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

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