EIGHT WAYS TO IMPROVE WOMEN'S RIGHTS PROJECTS IN AFRICA
STRATEGIES! facilitated the AUDA - NEPAD Gender Unit Strategic Planning Workshop in Magaliesburg, South Africa.

From the 27th to the 30th of June 2022, STRATEGIES! had the opportunity to facilitate the AUDA - NEPAD Gender Unit Strategic Planning Workshop in Magaliesburg, South Africa.

This Gender Unit of AUDA - NEPAD is operational since March 2022 with the appointment of a manager. This unit will be in charge of implementing the African Union's gender strategy through various projects, as it is the case with all AUDA - NEPAD.

A few points of reference on the African Union's gender strategy

The Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) strategy, valid for the period 2018 - 2028, is based on two elements: 

  • Goal n° 6 of the African Union's Agenda 2063, namely "An Africa where development is driven by its people, taking full advantage of their potential, especially its women and youth, and caring for its children".

  • Article 4 (l) of the Constitutive Act of the AU, namely: 'the promotion of equality between men and women'.

It is based on the following pillars:

Pillar

Optimizing (economic) outcomes, opportunities and digital technology dividends. This pillar aims to enable women to have equal access to quality education and control over productive resources.

Pillar  

Effective Laws, Policies and Institutions. At this level, the African Union aims to implement the provisions of the Maputo Protocol through laws, policies and institutions that promote women's rights and gender equality.

Pillar

Dignity, Security and Resilience. Through this pillar, the African Union aims to achieve results in human security, health and the elimination of violence against women.

Pillar 

Leadership, Voice and Visibility. The African Union aims to ensure that women are equally represented in all areas of decision-making at all levels and that their participation can have an impact by removing formal and informal barriers.

Major challenges ahead

Although there has been important progress in the empowerment and defense of women's rights, many challenges must be overcome to achieve effective equality of rights between men and women in Africa (1; 2; 3).

On the educational front : 

  • 1/5 of African children aged 6 to 11 are not in school, while almost 60% of young people aged 15 to 17 are not enrolled.

  • Girls' education is of particular concern: 9 million girls aged 6 to 11 on the continent will never attend school, compared to 6 million boys. By the time they reach adolescence, girls have an exclusion rate of 36%, compared to 32% for boys.

On the issue of child marriage  

The UN estimates that every day about 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married in Africa. 

  • 1/3 of girls are married before age 18. 

  • 1/9 experience it before the age of 15

On violence against women 

Violence against women, or gender-based violence, includes many types of abuse, ranging from physical, sexual, and emotional violence to female genital mutilation and trafficking.

The rate of such violence in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than the global average. About 44 per cent of African women, or more than two in five, have experienced gender-based violence.

Africa has the highest percentage of child marriages (15 of 20 countries) and female genital mutilation.

To achieve faster and more effective change in women's rights and conditions.

During the AUDA NEPAD Gender Unit planning workshop, several lessons were learned from the multiple continental and regional initiatives. The following levers can significantly contribute to the success of women's projects: 

  1. Accountability: In all projects, institutions and member states of the African Union, there must be systematic accountability for all dimensions of gender mainstreaming.

  2. Data: We need more data, accurate data, regular and disaggregated data. Without data, we don't know exactly what the impact of our actions in promoting gender in Africa is.

  3. Integration and synergy: In planning, budgeting, implementation, and monitoring, at the continental level and in each national project, it is important to have gender in all phases.

  4. Funding: Women's empowerment projects need more funding to make an effective and meaningful difference on the ground.

  5. Financial inclusion of the right people on the ground: In all women's empowerment projects, it is crucial to ensure that the right people get the funding.

  6. Reporting: It is absolutely important to improve the regularity and quality of reporting by the African Union, Regional Economic Communities and Member States.

  7. Long-term supportIt is essential to provide long-term guidance and support to those supported. It takes time to achieve lasting impact and change.

  8. Adequate human resources: For the success of the projects, it is necessary to have adequate human resources, that is motivated, competent and if possible with a real commitment to women's rights issues.

These elements, if they are constantly present in the minds of decision-makers and project leaders in favour of women's rights, will not fail to accelerate and make effective the ambitions of the African Union in this area.

Participants at the AUDA-NEPAD Gender Unit's three-year strategic plan development workshop unanimously stressed the importance of these elements. Participants were drawn from the AU Commission, AUDA NEPAD, UN Women and civil society.  

With 27 years of experience in supporting international and national institutions and projects in gender training and mainstreaming, STRATEGIES! is confident that the effective implementation of these lessons will ensure the success of the new AUDA NEPAD Gender Unit. 





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