Africa’s call for the post-2015
Give us a transformative goal on gender equality
Women’s rights and civil society organisations from over 14 countries in the continent recently gathered in Kampala Uganda to discuss and draw a road map towards ensuring gender equality in the post 2015 development agenda and determining what they would want to see for the African continent.
In a position paper to Sam Kutesa, incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly, delegates to the conference deliberated on what they felt was important to them as African and the entire region.
Speaking at the conference, Leah Chatta-Chipepa, Executive Director Akina Mama wa Africa said: “We want an opportunity to influence the presidency of the General Assembly and African Leadership. She added: “we want a consensus as civil society organisations of what we want African governments to do.”
The meeting came at a time when it was clear that the continent was retrogressing in gender equality and there was need to determine the place of women and gender equality within the development frameworks.
Addressing the same meeting, Emma Kaliya, chairperson African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) noted that the post-2015 development framework was being shaped from local to global levels.
Kaliya reiterated that soon the African Union will go back to being a boy’s club because Ellen John Sirleaf’s term was coming to an end, while Catherine Samba-Panza, was the interim president of Central African Republic who the law bars from vying.
“It was regrettable that Joyce Banda had lost the Malawi presidential bid at a time when Africa has a few women presidents,” stated Kaliya. She added: “African Union is facing another challenge of gender inequality when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s term ends. We are going back to a time when the African Union will be a boy’s club.”
Chatta-Chipepa: “There are many gaps that need to be filled which we as women of the continent have raised.” She reiterated: “If we had a goal it would be the game changer in gender inequality.”
Drawing the agenda of what the continent wants in the post-2015 development agenda, Mwangi Waituri, of the African Working Group on post Millennium Development Goals said that those who wish to see their issues included in the development framework must be smart.
“We must question ourselves as to what the road ahead looks like. We must know who are our friend and who are our enemies,” noted Waituri.
Noting that policy is about power, Waituri urged delegates to engage with the President of the General Assembly because he is the one who sets agenda on how negotiations will be carried out.
He advised: “You cannot influence policy unless you are involved in the game of power.”
Yvette Kathurima of FEMNET said the African continent was faced with fragile times due to terrorism and conflicts. “The post-2015 is critical for the African citizen and civil society organisations more so youth, women and the marginalised groups.” She added: “It is critical for women’s organisations across Africa to ensure that the post-2015 consultations drive the African agenda.”
This was reiterated by Bouare Bintou Foune Samake, President Women and Law in Africa (WILDAF) Mali: As we head towards the end of the Millennium Development Goals and 20 years after Beijing, we need to ensure we are not excluded from the process.”
Delegates presented a position paper to Sam Kutesa, the incoming president of the General Assembly that had certain specifics they wanted to see included in the post-2015 development framework.
- Transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment.
- Recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work.
- Eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination.
- Universal access to sexual reproductive health and rights.
- Access to, control and ownership of resources and assets.
- Mobilize domestic resources through innovative financing.
- Ensuring gender parity in decision making, transparent and accountable governance at all levels.
Addou noted: “There is a clear relationship between development and human rights. Any transformative agenda must have respect for women’s human rights.”
This was reiterated by Chatta-Chipepa who noted: Development cannot be achieved without good governance, a transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment. “Gender equality must be a standalone and gender be mainstreamed across the post-2015 development framework,” said Chatta-Chipepa.
According to the UN Women Policy Division, transformative goal would require an integrated approach that addresses three critical target areas of gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment: These include
- Freedom from violence against women and girls — concrete actions to eliminate the debilitating fear and/or experience of violence must be a centrepiece of any future framework.
- Gender equality in the distribution of capabilities — knowledge, good health, sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of women and adolescent girls; and access to resources and opportunities, including land, decent work and equal pay to build women’s economic and social security.
- Gender equality in decision-making power in public and private institutions, in national parliaments and local councils, the media and civil society, in the management and governance of firms, and in families and communities.
In a speech read on his behalf by Ambassador David Etuket, Kutesa openly committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment being priority issues during his presidency at the General Assembly.
“It is important to look at means of implementing the post-2015 development framework so that it works for all,” Kutesa said. He noted: “If implementation of the psot-2015 development agenda is not assured, then the framework will remain just a document on paper.”
Reiterating the importance of human right, Etuket said: “If there is no development you cannot have human rights, and if there is no human rights you cannot have development.”
He called on all African states to take advantage of Kutesa’s presidency to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment remain key issues during his term.
According to Brian Kagoro, Regional Programme Advisor at the UNDP in Addis Ababa, the struggle has been to define people to include women. “There is need for a new generation of political leadership to address the unfinished business of Millennium Development Goals.”
These sentiment are echoed by Francoise Labelle, a Member of Parliament from Mauritius who noted that Millennium Development Goals as elaborated in 2000 will not be ready by 2015, and hence the importance of the post-2015 development agenda.”
She added: Countries did not start on a level playing field. We must ensure that countries who didn’t achieve the goals are not subjected to unfair judgement.”
According to Richard Ssewakirwanga, Executive Direction Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Forum Uganda the Millennium Development Goals should be reformulated because they have limited focus and economic growth.
“The Millennium Development Goals failed because they are silent on equality including social, spatial, and horizontal inequality,” said Ssewakirwanga.
The position paper delivered in Kampala noted: “To achieve the aspirations for Africa, it is imperative that we include women’s rights as this was the missing gap that led to MDG Five being termed as unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals. It is equally important to flag that we cannot achieve sustainable development without realisation of human rights.”
This fact was reiterated by Labelle who noted that development cannot be achieved without investment in women.
“For women to know what is possible, we need data about everything and anything. The next fight is not just about ideas. We need data to provide evidence,” Kagoro said.
The position paper noted that the burden of care falls disproportionately on women and girls and must be shared among men and women, the state, private sector and communities.
Kathurima reiterated the fact that governments have not understood what is meant by unpaid care work. “There are many excellent best practices on means to reduce unpaid care work, such as: provision of basic services, including water, which cuts down on time fetching water; income support measures (social protection) and labour saving technologies,” said Kathurima.
According to Salina Sanou, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) Kenya, development framework must have a target of reducing the time women spend in unpaid care work..