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Social Affairs

The African Union is committed to Strengthening a people centered Union through active communication of the programmes of the African Union, the branding of the Union and participation of Member States and other stakeholders in defining and implementing the African agenda.

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Department of Social Affairs
The Department works to promote the AU’s labour, social development and cultural agenda. Its core roles include: providing support for the implementation of Member States’ policies on labour, population, health and migration; developing programmes and strategies on drug control and other issues; and promoting AU instruments for advancing the social and solidarity agenda. The Department has five divisions: Health, Nutrition and Population; HIV/AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Other Infectious Diseases; Labour, Employment and Migration; Social Welfare, Vulnerable Groups and Drug Control; and Culture and Sport. It also hosts the Secretariat of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). See the Judicial and Human Rights Institutions chapter for details about ACERWC. The Department also works with the following two specialised offices: the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) and the Centre for Linguistic and Historical Studies by Oral Tradition (CELHTO).
Key African Social and Human Development Commitments
Social Policy Framework for Africa: The AU Commission’s (AUC) programme on social development is based on a human-centered approach that seeks to promote human rights and dignity. The programme encompasses health and endemic diseases; migration; population; reproductive health and rights; culture; sport; social welfare and protection of vulnerable groups including children, people with disabilities, the older persons; the family; gender equality; education; and human resource development, amongst others.
AU Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing
Continental efforts to address the challenges resulting from an ageing population in Africa started at the 1999 Session of the OAU Labour and Social Affairs Commission that was held in Windhoek, Namibia.The partnership between HelpAge International – Africa Development Centre and the then OAU and now African Union, has, over time, seen the drafting and finalisation of the AU Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing in Africa. The policy received the final seal of approval during the 38th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Durban, South Africa in July 2002.
The African Union Commission harmonises and coordinates activities and policies across the continent, in order to build further structure and opportunities for using culture for integration and African renaissance, cultural development, promotion of creative and cultural industries. The Division works with the RECs, Member States and development partners to ensure the implementation of cultural policies that create jobs, promote the continent’s enormous resources and skills and changes lives.
Social Welfare, Vulnerable Groups and Drug Control
The African Union Commission works with Member States and development partners to create and strengthen social protection systems that aims at reducing social and economic risk and vulnerability. These social safety nets have multiple beneficial economic impacts, build human capital, break intergenerational poverty cycle and reduce growing inequalities. It leads in advocating the rights and welfare of vulnerable groups emphasising human-centred sustainable development and inclusion of vulnerable groups in the development of policies and programmes. Due to the impact of drugs, crime and corruption on development efforts in African countries the the African Union Commission leads on continental efforts to address organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, money laundering and corruption. The Commission works with Regional Economic Communities, Member States and development partners for policy development, advocacy, resource mobilisation and coordination of implementation social welfare and drug control policies.
Health, Nutrition and Population
The African Union Commission plays a facilitating role, especially, with respect to: policy and strategy setting, coordination, catalysing Africa’s health agenda as it relates to the continents socio-economic development and integration. It achieves this through consensus building, advocacy and experience and information sharing. The Commission addresses health issues related to policy and delivery systems, nutrition and other related public health issues and challenges that require a concerted and coordinated approach at the continental level. The Commission works to develop and support implementation of policies and programmes related to strengthening of health systems (including human resources for health, medicines, e-health and traditional medicine), sexual and reproductive health and rights, population, and nutrition. The Department of Social Affairs of the AU Commission also serves as the Secretariat for the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa.
AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases (OIDs)
The African continent continues to bear a high disease burden due largely to a plethora of communicable and infectious diseases. While significant progress has been made AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and a host of other infectious diseases continue ‎to affect human capital development. This is despite the progress registered, resulting in poor performance on reaching targets of the ‎MDGs and the low regional score of Africa on the Human Development Index. The African Union Commission provides a leadership role in advocacy, coordination and monitoring and evaluation working in close collaboration with Member States, Regional Economic Communities and development partners. It primarily coordinates the processes of developing, implementing and monitoring programmes in prevention and control of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, diseases surveillance and response and disaster preparedness and response. The Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission also serves as the Secretariat of AIDS Watch Africa (AWA).
The African Union recognises sport as an effective tool to attain social and economic transformation on the continent. The contribution sport makes to the social and economic development of the African continent is multi-faceted. Sport is increasingly being recognised as a tool for supporting development efforts throughout the world. The African Union Commission promotes the implementation of the Sports Policy Framework and the new Architecture for Sport in Africa as factors for social cohesion, peace, development and integration in collaboration with Member States, Regional Economic Communities and development partners. The Commission promotes participation and excellence, build capacity and promote ethics and values for sport in Africa. The AU Commission works with various stakeholders to provide a dynamic sport environment that enables all Africans to experience and enjoy involvement in sport to the extent of their abilities and interests and to perform consistently and successfully at the highest competitive level..
AIDS Watch Africa
Created at the Abuja 2001 Special Summit, AIDS Watch Africa (AWA) is an Africa-led instrument to stimulate leaders into action and mobilize the resources needed to address AIDS, TB and Malaria in an effective, sustainable and accountable manner.
Campaign - End Child Marriage Now
Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before age 18 or “any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing. Child marriage has devastating and long term effects ( health, education, psychological, emotional, mental etc.) on the life and the future of girls. It is a human rights, gender, health and culture, as well as a development issue.
Campaign on Accelerated Reduction on Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA)
The Campaign on Accelerated Reduction on Maternal Mortality in Africa was launched in 2009 with the theme ‘Africa cares: No woman should die while giving life’. CARMMA’s operations are derived from key priority areas enshrined in the 2005 AU Policy Framework for the Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa and the Maputo Plan of Action (2006). CARMMA focuses on three key areas which are public information and advocacy; encouraging achievements and strides made in some countries in reducing maternal mortality and seeking to replicate them; and intensifying actions aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality. The campaign mobilises increased political commitment and action to reduce maternal mortality in countries with high rates.
Leadership of the Department of Social Affairs
Commissioner Social Affairs
Directorate of Department of Social Affairs
Dr. Olawale I. Maiyegun
P.O.Box 3243
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel Off: (+251) 115 51 77 00 Ext 300
Director(+251) 115 51 35 22