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African Women’s Key Priorities & Strategic Roadmap towards Safeguarding Gains in the 2030 Agenda (SDGs)

Safeguarding Our Gains: African Women’s Collective Action on Defining the Pathway to Achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Africa Agenda 2063

The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) convened over 190 African women’s rights organization representatives from 34 African countries in Nairobi, Kenya, for the first and biggest pan-African women’s conference since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The convening comes at a time when gender gains, underpinned by the ratification to international treaties and conventions on gender equality by African governments, continue to be eroded.

During the conference, African women’s rights organizations and movements embarked on the development of a strategic roadmap geared towards safeguarding and cultivating gender equity gains. African women’s movements intend to ensure that women and girls are at the centre of the effective follow-up, and monitoring and implementation of the SDGs and Africa Agenda 2063.

In this regard, the Nairobi convening identified a set of 6 priorities to collectively embark on over the next few years.

  1. Accountability to Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality

We recognize that all the SDGs, with their goals, targets and indicators, are interrelated and important to achieve gender equality and empowerment of African women and girls. However, we distinguish SDG 5, with its focus on the reduction of gender inequality as central to the attainment of all the other SDG goals.

As part of our responsibility to holding African government’s accountable to delivering on their global commitments, we call for all SDGs and the entire 2030 agenda to be aligned to Africa Agenda 2063, as well as other gender and human rights frameworks already in existence, such as CEDAW, The Beijing Platform for Action, and the Universal Periodic Review and the Maputo Protocol

We foreground the role of the women’s Organisations, networks and movements in the voluntary national reporting processes, as well as other regional and global forums to ensure themes and issues are discussed in a gender transformative way, and harmful policy decisions are avoided.

  1. Financing for SDGs

The African High Level Panel (HLP) states that ‘Africa is losing approximately $50 billion annually through IFFs’. Because of their scale and negative impact, the issue has become an urgent matter of concern regarding Africa’s development. FEMNET is committed to continue to take leadership in mobilising African women’s rights organisations to collectively push this agenda on the continent.  We call for the stop of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), the establishment of a global tax body and call for an increase in research on how gender inequality is made worse through IFFs.

Losses through IFFs aggravate gender inequality; reduce spending on social services like maternal health, care work, girl child education, etc. We call on all governments to stop IFFs, and call for the establishment of a global tax body that is adequately resourced and meaningfully inclusive.

We call for progressive tax systems that increase taxes on the wealth, capital and profits of the rich; and an end to tax secrecy and tax havens, domestic resource mobilisation and gender responsive budgeting. This will ultimately and effectively reduce poverty and legitimately provide funding for government development plans including gender mainstreaming.

We note the active interest of the private sector in the Sustainable development agenda and call for Governments to put in place mandatory rules and accountability mechanisms that ensure that private sector private sector compliance with human rights, including women’s and indigenous people’s rights and protection of  the environment.

  1. Cross-Sectional Movement Building – diversity and organising

 We are committed to harnessing the Pan African Women’s rights movement that uses cross-sectional and power analysis of social inequalities.  We will harness collective action to powerfully agitate for substantive gender equality and equity from the grassroots up, using inclusive methodologies as put forward by the Leave No One Behind Agenda to embrace diversity at individual, thematic and institutional levels. We believe that lack of social justice in one area is absence of it completely.

We shall cultivate a collective voice towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Africa Agenda 2063 for sustainable development (SDGs) even as we work in different sectors, countries, and spaces, as we are all agitating for the same goal.

Despite the erosion of gains made in gender advocacy, we are determined to collaborate more strongly and increase our power as African women through collective action and strategic alliances with and cross like minded human rights movements.

  1. Data collection and accountability

To effectively monitor and measure progress in gender equality and Women’s Rights commitments made at different levels including the Gender specific goals and targets under 2030 agenda and Africa Agenda 2063 as the newest development frameworks. We commit to, and call for, increased and meaningful data capture that is inclusive of girls and women’s voices, experiences and realities to impact policy making and legislation. We call for increased citizen participation in the collection and use of this data which in turn will work to building a strong data ecosystem.

We agitate for evidence-based decision making based on robust, African-driven and gender sensitive data collection and analysis by national institutions responsible for the development of such data sets in meaningful engagement with women’s rights organizations.

We will use different data sources and types that leverage of the digital age to push for a data revolution that will enable effective monitoring and tracking of SDGs implementation at grassroots, national, regional and international levels.

We urge states to efficiently fund and produce timely, robust, inclusive, user-driven, and disaggregated data that measures dimensions of the lives of women and girls for public good and inclusive development. This will include quantitative and qualitative data (case-study and story development) that document women’s experiences and lived realities.

We call for a critical mass and community of African women data collectors to build ownership of data, use feminist analysis and tools and optimize decision making that is grounded in our reality.

  1. The Fight against Inequality

We recognize that women are a non-homogenous group on the basis of gender identity, class, sexual orientation, spatial (rural, urban), age, ability, religion etc and we push for intersectional equity and equality.

The same market fundamentalism ideology that creates the gap between the richest and the rest also relies on, and further entrenches patriarchy – it undermines the rights of women, achieving economic development off the back of low wages and poor working conditions that discriminate against women worldwide.

Women workers are the lowest-paid, and face precarious and dangerous jobs, unprotected by labour laws in a world that yields billions for the global economy.  Rather than recognizing, protecting and rewarding their economic contribution, market fundamentalism hits women and girls hardest by stripping away policies like paid maternity leave, childcare, social security and free health and education.

We call for a fair wage economy that provides a living wage for care work, and social, and economic policies that invest in and protect women and girls. We call for fair distribution of opportunities and decent employment for women and an end to economic slavery of women and girls in the work place.

We call for new economic model that realigns economic benefits to the interests of people, and to peace and democracy.

  1. Protect women’s rights, democratic rights and civic space in the face of growing inequality

The rapid rise of inequality crushes democracy. Collusion between political and economic elites erodes the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Africa, and civil society freedoms are increasingly being violated around the world, and civil society space is increasingly shrinking.

In this context, violence against women and girls, hate speech, physical attacks, disappearances and assassinations are increasingly common. The right to choice and bodily integrity and access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health and rights is under threat.  Citizens, who speak truth to power, challenge authoritarianism, market fundamentalism and women human rights defenders are suffering vilification and stigmatization, arbitrary detention and criminalization.

Following from the Beijing +20 Africa Regional Shadow report commissioned by FEMNET in 2014, the closure of space affects women’s rights organization through shrinking and fragmented funding streams, closure of frontline domestic violence centres, shifts away from women’s rights by states in favour of norms that centre “family values”. Further, violent extremism and religious fundamentalism are increasing states rationale for shrinking civic space. Together, these are all key concerns that need to be addressed.

We call for governments to safeguard, and protect the rights of all women to freely speak out, organize and take action. We call for governments to address an end to legislation that prevents civil society holding governments accountable.

 

For more information contact:

 FEMNET’s Executive Director on email, director@femnet.or.ke

Follow and Engage with us online: @FemnetProg and www.femnet.co

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African Women Pushing for FULL Implementation of 2030 Agenda (SDGs) #FemmeAfricaSDGs

This very first convening of FEMNET members and women’s rights organizations generally across Africa to collectively deliberate and develop a roadmap for women’s rights organizations to effectively engage in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). This convening comes one and a half years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and when AU has developed a 10 year implementation plan of the Africa Agenda 2063. An opportune moment when African countries are starting to put in place mechanisms for monitoring, review and implementation of both agendas and some are preparing for National Voluntary Reporting at the High Level Political Forum in July, 2017. In addition, African Union in partnership with UNDP, UN Economic Commission in Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank are also developing a joint Implementation framework for both 2030 Agenda and Africa Agenda 2063 to allow AU member states to be accountable to both agendas in a more efficient and effective way.

The theme of the convening is “Safeguarding our gains: African women collective action on defining the pathway to achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  It will be  (i) a dedicated space for the African women’s movement and development partners  to spread learning and broaden understanding of women’s rights key issues related to the gender equality indicators and targets in the 17 SDG goals and Goal 5 in particular and its intersection with other women’s human rights instruments and Africa Agenda 2063. (ii) Foster collective thinking on how to move forward on common challenges and promote alliance-building and continental coordination on ensuring no one is left behind and (iii) Mobilize organizations and individuals for actions that contribute to the effective monitoring, follow up and implementation of 2030 Agenda.

The Convening will discuss how to leverage on regional and global opportunities while identifying existing opportunities at the national and local levels.  It will have a market place for players in different countries to share best practices and the existing initiatives that can be replicated in other countries and regionally. The outcomes (roadmap) will feed into other key regional and global processes including the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development to be convened by UNECA in mid May 2017, the 2nd Annual Global South Women’s Forum on Sustainable Development to be held in Rwanda in May, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to be held in July in New York as well as the 5th Africa-EU Summit to be held in November 2017.

Follow and Engage with us on Twitter (hashtag #FemmeAfricaSDGs) and Facebook

No longer business as usual as women demand space for transformative leadership in Africa

African governments  have  been warned to take note that it is  no longer business as usual and it is time they  heed the call for the process of transformative  leadership that will not create barriers for women but instead make spaces available and create a conducive environment for equal representation of women and men in all sectors at all levels.

At the opening of the inaugural African Women’s Leadership Symposium in Nairobi, Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam International alongside a rich collection of African women leaders  sent the message to African governments that Africa needs transformation leadership carried along by both men and women in equal numbers for the continent  to prosper.

“No goal, no strategy, no vision for Africa can come true until we have sustainable leadership that delivers for women in every sphere of our lives,” says Byanyima, Executive Director of OXFAM and one of the convenors at the symposium.   Noting that so many wrongs are happening in the continent because women are missing from leadership, Byanyima notes: “Of all the maternal mortality deaths worldwide, half happen in sub-Saharan Africa.  This fact alone should be enough to make us burn with indignation for the women of Africa.”

Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs says the journey to transformative leadership is long and women and indeed all leaders must be able to make sacrifices for them to get to the final destination.  Noting that only 17 out of 54 African countries have managed to close the gender gaps.

Hon. Mohammed lauded countries like Rwanda which have made it possible for women to be in leadership positions in high numbers, but challenged women to empower themselves and empower each other by walking the talk and being confident in what they do.

“For us to realise transformative leadership and women’s empowerment, it can no longer be business as usual,” notes Hon Amb. Amina.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender and Vice President at the African Development Bank and also a co-covener at the Syposium says there are barriers to women at all levels of leadership. “We are now ready to make change and be part of the collective. We have to break barriers, boundaries and the glass ceilings.”

Fraser-Moleketi notes: “If you don’t include women you are actually undermining the change that should be there.”

The African Women’s Leadership Symposium is being held under an umbrella of various organisations that included OXFAM, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and brought together about 200 women from across Africa to deliberate on goals and commitments from women leaders to impact lives of women and girls and bring about lasting change in Africa.  The meeting was intergenerational having brought in young women and also having older women share their stories in a dialogue that was to not only inspire but also demand for attention from governments.

The Symposium, a first of its kind, is giving opportunity to women leaders to deliberate how to leverage their leadership, power, influence and access for the development and progress of the African continent in general and the advancement of women and girls’ rights in particular. It is a vibrant space for animated interactions and discussions on factors that support and those that hinder women’s access to power, influence and resources in society and will also be an opportunity to reflect on how to best collaborate inter-sectorally so as to further the agenda of women and girls rights in Africa.

For every woman participating in Africa and for every woman participating in the African Women’s Leaders Symposium, there is a story of resilience that has set her on the path of advocating and enhancing the capacity of other women and girls.

In visualising and convening the African Women’s Leaders Symposium Byanyima says this is a journey she knows only too well having previously faced discrimination and stereotyping simply because she is a woman.
“I have seen transformative leadership in women from less advantaged and poor households in Africa . Women breaking  glass ceilings and fighting for girl’s education and against early marriages.  I have the belief in and passion to work with other women to change the rules of society so that women and men can experience equality and live in dignity. There is no glory in breaking the glass ceiling if the shards fall on the girls behind you,” says Byanyima.

The participants to the African Women’s Leadership Symposium made focussed commitments to impact and transform the lives of women and girls  in the spaces they work .  The One-million Initiative and the Supporter Journeys where African women took substantive commitments were the two main  outputs of the Symposium.

Dinah Musindarwezo, the Executive Director of FEMNET also co-hosting the symposium says this path to commitment by African women leaders is basically what sets the symposium on a practical implementation path to move us from rhetoric to real actions.

“This inaugural initiative in Transformative Women’s Leadership is calling on the transformation of one-million+ women in the continent to make significant strides in improving the lives and status of women in trade.  This is where we want women of influence in different aspects of trade to do their bit to push for bridging of Economic gender gaps that deter women from attaining meaningful gains and making considerable impact,” says Musindarwezo.

Follow/ Engage on Twitter: #AWLS and @AfricanWLS and @FEMNETProg

For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Mildred Ngesa (ngesamildred@gmail.com / +254727137853 ) and Victor Nyambok (VNyambok@oxfam.org.uk / + 0722211819)