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Statement by Dr Amira El-Fadli AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Second Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment (Stc-Sdle-2) Algiers, Algeria 24-28 April 2017

Statement by Dr Amira El-Fadli AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Second Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment (Stc-Sdle-2) Algiers, Algeria 24-28 April 2017

April 27, 2017

24-28 APRIL 2017

Theme: “Social Development and Employment: Benefits of the Demographic Dividend for Inclusive Development”


Your Excellency, Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria,
Honourable Ministers,
Esteemed Experts,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union and as the Commissioner of Social Affairs, I take this opportunity to thank the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria for graciously accepting to host this 2nd Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment under the theme: ““Social Development and Employment: Benefits of the Demographic Dividend for Inclusive Development”. We appreciate the warm welcome and hospitality you have extended to us in Algiers and the highly professional services of your protocol, transport and hotel personnel, to name a few.

As a former Minister of Welfare and Social Security in my country, Sudan, a number of the issues that this STC has been focussing on are of great importance to me, ranging from Social Protection, issues of disability, children and the state of labour and employment in Africa. I look forward to take part in the on-going interactive and constructive discussions resulting from the outputs of this meeting, with the ultimate goal of making our diverse and wonderful continent stronger and more sustainable. Whether at national, regional or continental level, we must stand as one in order to get the job done effectively, no-one must be left behind.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The session of this STC will directly contribute to the achievement of 2 of the 7 Aspirations of Agenda 2063, and to the realisation of 3 of the 20 goals, as we shall focus on the 6 of the 39 priority areas, in fact the top three, which are: Income, jobs and decent work; Poverty, inequality and hunger; Social Security and Protection, including Persons with Disabilities; and other priorities, which are: Women and Girls Empowerment; Violence and Discrimination against Women and Girls; and Youth Empowerment and Children.

In the Social Development sector, we have made big strides regarding realising the rights of Persons with Disabilities, as we shall consider the Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities tomorrow, and we wish to implement the full AU Disability Architecture over the next two years, including the establishment of the AU Disability Institute. In the same vein, and associated with disability, we have adopted the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa in January 2016. We wish to have it signed and ratified by 15 Member States soon, for it to enter into force. In particular, we wish to see the access to relevant health care for older persons improved over the next years, as we shall consider an African Common Position on Long Term Care for Older Persons in this meeting. In Social Protection, as you know, the relevant sectorial Ministers made landmark decisions since 2010, with the highlight being the request from the Executive Council to the Commission and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, to develop a Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security, as well as a Social Agenda 2063. The processes of developing these instruments have begun, and we hope to have them ready for our STC in 2019.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all started off as children and now a number of us in this room have children and grandchildren and because of this, we can’t afford to neglect or turn a blind eye to the scourge of child marriage. Without a chance at a quality education, our children cannot grow into productive members of society. Child marriage is a vicious and complex cycle that has to be tackled from the root, whether it is culture, tradition, gender inequality or poverty, child marriage is a destructive practice that hinders development. In this regard, the Commission has, among others, organised the First African Girls Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, in November 2015 and have launched the Campaign to End Child Marriage in 19 Member States to far, and wish to launch in 11 more, as well as to conduct more capacity building with relevant stakeholders over the next 2 years. Personally I wish to see the emphasis on keeping the girl child in school in the Campaign to End Child Marriage, which also echo’s the AU Theme for this Year.

We also have to take bold measures to achieve the Agenda 2063 targets on employment, in particular for youth and women, and productivity improvement to eradicate poverty, including working poverty in the informal economy, reduce inequality and continue building cohesive societies in our continent.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The past year the Commission led the consultative process to develop the First Five Year priority Progamme (2016-2020) on Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive development, built on the relevant targets of Agenda 2063 and aligned with the UN Agenda 2030 as well. The Priority Programme will be domesticated in RECs, with ECOWAS completing its process before September 2017. Surveys were furthermore conducted on social protection and social security measures for rural workers in pilot counties. Initiatives will be deployed over the next two years to promote social security access and portability for migrant workers in the EAC, ECOWAS and SADC regions. The Labour Migration Advisory Committee will be operationalized. The Commission will engage with the secretariat of the Committee on Development and Promotion of Handicraft to implement the Social Protection Plan for the Informal Economy and Rural Workers and extend social security to workers in the informal economy, in particular for artisans and members of their families. The Department also developed the First Labour Migration Statistics Report covering 33 Member States, and targets 45 Member States in the 2018 report. The Commission started the work to develop the Employment and Social Cohesion Fund, in collaboration with ILO, ECA and AfDB, as requested by the Summit in January 2015. Finally, the Commission will work with all stakeholders at all levels to prepare the development of the first follow-up biennial report on the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development, which is due for 2018.

In order for our economies to thrive and be even more competitive at the global scale, we must start with investing in our people. The dialogue of investing in our people with desired outcomes must not begin and end at this STC. We all have to take the decisions of this meeting back to your countries and act. We all have a responsibility and a role to play to implement the decisions – the African Union and it organs, Member States, Regional Economic Communities, Development partners, Civil Society Organisations and individuals, to concretize the harnessing of the demographic dividend.

I thank you.