African women call for gendered solutions to global crises
Sunday, March 08, 2009
A delegation of high-ranking African women attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) are calling for countries to take into account the unique perspective African women hold in order to address a number of challenges facing Africa.
More than 15 African ministers, among them The Gambia's vice president and secretary of state for Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, are attending the CSW session. The Commission began its deliberations on 2 March and is discussing the progress made towards implementing efforts to ensure respect for women's rights across the world. The theme of this year's session is 'Equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV and AIDS."
The African leaders are calling for additional financing for gender equality and for collecting reliable data on gender equality, women's empowerment and violence against women and girls. Establishing sound data is a necessary precondition for establishing the best policies and monitoring the effectiveness of action. In addition, the African women are endorsing the UN-wide campaign to end violence against women and girls, which is spearheaded in Africa by UNIFEM.
The African ministers are promoting awareness for the launch of the 2010-2020 African Women's Decade which was recently declared by the African Union Summit. According to Litha Musiyimi-Ogana, AU Commission Director of Women, Gender and Development, the decade is geared toward maintaining the momentum for empowering African women in the context of the current economic and financial crisis. "The African Women's Decade must safeguard the gains that women have already painstakingly earned and should galvanize political will to find the resources for further progress," said Musiyimi-Ogana.
At the same time, the African leaders attending the Commission are signaling their intention to expand the 15-year review of the Beijing Women's Conference. The review will determine the progress that countries have made in implementing the Beijing Platform for Women, a document which laid out key areas for improvement. African women are asking that this review takes into account the impact of global food shortages, price hikes and climate change on Africa 's women.
UN Economic Commission for Africa is convening a regional Beijing + 15 ministerial review of the Beijing Ministers this October in Addis Ababa to conduct a crucial stocktaking to determine how much still remains to be achieved towards equality and women's empowerment. The recently held African Development Forum VI in Addis Ababa came up with the conclusion that although much has been achieved, more needs to be done for the full achievement of gender equality and women's empowerment in Africa.
Studies and statistics continue to show that access to resources is not equitable between men and women across Africa; and violence against women and girls in conflict and situations of insecurity has reached alarming levels, contributing also to the spread of HIV/AIDs infections amongst women.
ECA's Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo, who heads the African Centre for Gender and Social Development, says the Beijing + 15 review is a fundamental prerequisite for forward progress for African women in the development of their continent. "We have fought so hard for women's empowerment, but now we are seeing that the global economic, food and climate change crises are threatening to compromise our hard-fought gains. We need to focus on how higher food prices and how climate are impacting the lives of women. We need solutions for these challenges and we need them quickly."