African Union set to launch the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa

November 13, 2017

African Union set to launch the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa

The African Union will tomorrow, 14th November 2017 launch the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa (GADIA). Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E Kwesi Quartey will join the President of the Republic of Ghana H.E Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union’s Committee on Gender and Development, in the launch of the Initiative under the theme “Africa women as leaders in business and politics”. The launch will take place in Accra, Ghana.

The event comes just months after President Nana Akufo-Addo was appointed the Chairperson of the African Union’s Committee on Gender and Development during the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in June 2017. While announcing the appointment, African Union Chairperson, President Alpha Conde of Guinea, said the appointment was aimed at encouraging and promoting the gender empowerment campaign across Africa.

Ahead of the launch, the Deputy Chairperson says the initiative is timely and significant in advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa and accelerating the implementation of gender commitments at the national, regional and continental levels. He also acknowledged the need to celebrate the successes of women, support and promote their agenda at the same time reiterating the AU Commission’s commitment to ensure policies and declarations that advance the women agenda are translated into high impact and scalable actions, as set out in Agenda 2063
Amb. Kwesi says the Union is keen to give impetus to among others, the targets set out in Agenda 2063 to empower women politically, socially and economically. He briefly highlighted the following aspects he hoped the initiative would focus on;

- Give momentum to the push for equal access to high level political positions that ensure women are given equal opportunities in all vacant positions open for political appointment within the African Union, including joint nominations with the United Nations.

- Help women increase access to finances and markets as a means of opening up economic opportunities for women, as a means of winning the war on poverty and economic exclusion. The AU commission is looking beyond the “micro-finance solutions” but on financing that will grow businesses of the women in line with the objectives of the Continental Free Trade Area. “Public and private procurements account for 30% of the GDP of many of our countries. Yet the share of women owned-businesses is less than 1%. Agenda 2063 calls for allocating at least 25 per cent of public procurements to women-owned businesses”, Amb. Kwesi stated.

- The Commission will also be pushing for the attainment of the Universal Ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure the protection of their rights as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.
Among the priorities is the achievement of AU’s initiative of “Silencing the guns by 2020” by ensuring at least 30 per cent representation of women at the negotiation table and to fight against conflict related violence against women.

- AU further hopes that by 2025, the legislative assemblies and public offices of its member states will be made up of at least 30 per cent of women. Rwanda was recently ranked 4th by the World Economic Forum’s report on gender equality and Mali has since set-up a fund for women in politics.

- With agriculture in Africa largely driven by women but who continue to use outdated tools like the handheld hoe to till the land, the AU in 2015 launched a campaign “Retire the Hoe to the Museum” to end the use of handheld hoes by 2025. Part of the campaign is similarly to ensure women have access to 30 per cent of documented land rights compared to the current 4 per cent.

- Ending child marriage, traditional harmful practices and preventable maternal mortality are also among the priorities of the Commission. “The UN reports that up to 80 per cent of women in some countries report being physically or emotionally abused by their husbands and 46 per cent in the presence of their children. 49 per cent of sexually active primary school age children is the result of forced sexual intercourse. 48 per cent of all migrants are women and many are subject to unimaginable forms of abuse and trafficking and therefore from November 25 through December 10, 2017, the world will join hands to advocate for concrete measures that eliminate violence against women”, the Deputy Chairperson observed.

In 2016, Ghana won the African Gender Award in recognition for Ghana’s efforts to advance economic and social rights of women in all major government policies and implementation of special gender programmes.