• Your Excellency Amb. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN and the Chairperson of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women;
• Your Excellency Madam Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director UN Women;
• Honorable Ministers ;
• Distinguished Delegates.
I am pleased to join you on this auspicious occasion of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women coming on the heels of the International Women’s Day only four days ago on 8 March. I am delighted to deliver this message on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union has declared 2019 as “The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. The AU’s 2019 theme resonates with the priority theme for CSW 63 on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
We will focus our eyes and energy on addressing structural root causes for forced displacement, highlighting its devastating consequences and exploring durable solutions for this menace in Africa. The AU has therefore prioritized finding innovative ways to remove social barriers and accelerate access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure for women and girls who are refugees, returnees or internally displaced persons in Africa.
The magnitude of forced displacement in Africa is cause for alarm. Africa hosts more than one-third of the global population of displaced people, including 6.3 million refugees and 14.5 million internally displaced persons. The majority of forcibly displaced persons are women and girls.
During its 32nd Ordinary Summit held in February 2019, the AU adopted a Decision to work with AU Member States and other relevant stakeholders to implement comprehensive national gender-sensitive policies and operational plans for displaced women and girls, to facilitate their access to social protection and public services, including education and health services. Pillar two of the AU’s first continental strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment recently launched at the 32nd AU Summit specifically calls for concerted efforts to promote the dignity, respect and resilience of women at all times.
In this regard, the African Union prioritizes the promotion of greater social protection for women and girls, including universal access to health care and social protection schemes, with the aim of ending child marriage and early school drop-outs. Higher rates of school completion and improved learning outcomes among girls is the surest way to secure better lives for our communities and our continent. Indeed, educating a girl is educating a nation!
Good governance, especially, access to justice, protection of human rights and guarantee of the rule of law, are necessary tools to ensure social protection and equitable access to public services for women and girls. We, therefore, ought to advocate for effective implementation of our legal frameworks and policies.
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen;
In conclusion, I am optimistic that during this CSW63 session, we will be able to identify key priorities to optimize our current efforts and investments towards gender equality and women’s empowerment as we implement the 2019 theme on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons.
I wish to reaffirm the commitment of the African Union Commission to partner with you to find innovative solutions to provide access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure for women and girls. This will surely lead us in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and realize the Africa We Want by 2063.
I look forward to the Agreed Conclusions of this CSW63.
I thank you for your attention