Making Agenda 2063 Work for African Women

‘Making Agenda 2063 work for African Women, a side event hosted by the ECA in the margins of the Ministers of Finance meeting took place on March 28th in Addis. One of the panelists was our very own Nebila Abdulmelik, Head of Communications. Download and read her entire intervention, which also makes concrete recommendations with regards to the implementation of Agenda 2063.

[download id=”2899″]

SA Minister – Speech at #CSW59

EXCERPT

The Declaration passed at this year’s CSW did not, even once mention the term Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as some delegations feel that this is too controversial. Is it really controversy to save the lives of women through providing them with needed services guaranteed by a human rights framework? What is controversial is when we let the lives of women perish from preventable diseases. What is even more controversial is when a global gathering dedicated to advance the rights of women such as the CSW shies away from confronting head-on, the challenges of women across the globe.

The evidence as to what happens to women in the absence of rights and services is too hard and overwhelming to ignore. This must spur us to decisive collective action. Failure to speak out clearly on the human rights of women amounts to tolerating and legitimising the high global mortality and morbidity rates for women.

In this case, ladies and gentlemen, silence is indeed complicity. We cannot and should not tolerate this any longer.

The undemocratic nature of global economic relations is also a form of patriarchy. The ideology of superiority that entitles countries of the West to extract the resource base of countries of the South is exactly the same ideology that gave rise to racism, slavery, colonialism and patriarchy within countries.

It is for this reason that I believe that we cannot and should not create a false dichotomy between the struggles for women’s human rights and the struggle for a more equitable global economic compact. The Declaration on the Right to Development provides the global community with a mechanism to overcome this artificial divide between development and human rights. It focuses on both the rights of countries to control their own resources and the fundamental rights and freedoms of people living within those countries.

Address by Ms Bathabile Dlamini, MP Minister of Social Development on the occasion of the 59th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) side event, Church Centre UN Plazza, New York
16 March 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends and comrades before I begin I would like request that we observe a moment of silence in honour of the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane and the two protectors who died in a fatal car crash yesterday morning.

We all join President Jacob Zuma in expressing our deepest sympathy to their families and friends at this very sad time. In Collins Chabane, our country has lost a good colleague whose thoughts and his deeds always reflected his efforts to promote the values and aims of our Government. We are truly grateful for his dedication and sacrifice.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to be with you on this special occasion. As we are all aware, this year marks an important milestone for the global women’s movement as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action. This gives us a unique opportunity to take stock of the achievements and challenges that still face women across the globe.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action was and remains one of the most important legacies of the previous century’s advocacy for women’s human rights, which are indispensable building blocks for gender equality and women empowerment.

On a historic occasion such as this, allow me to salute the pioneers and veterans of the African women struggles such as the first President of the Pan-African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, from Tanzania and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, the late Wangari Maathai from Kenya who both championed Africa’s women leadership and empowerment.

Twenty years after Beijing, there has undoubtedly been remarkable progress across the globe with respect to improving the lives of women. This includes my own country-South Africa, where the 20 years of Beijing Declaration and the Platform of Action coincides with the 20 years of constitutional democratic governance and 60 years after the adoption of the Freedom Charter.

Inspired by the values and principles underpinning the struggles against human rights abuses under the apartheid regime, South Africa participated in the Beijing Conference in 1995, just a few months into its constitutional democratic governance, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) without reservation in December of the same year.
It is therefore, no accident that the constitution of a democratic South Africa explicitly prohibits discrimination based on race, class, gender, religion and sexual orientation. The prohibition of all these forms of discrimination reflects the vision of the type of society that we want to build for our children and for many generations to come.

Let me hasten to highlight that laws and policies alone does not automatically result in the changes we want, but it does provide us with a normative base around which we can rally our people to change their hearts and minds. Having the right policies and laws in place, does serve to engage all of our people in dialogue around changing the norms and values that give rise to and sustain the oppression and the perpetuation of violence against women. Laws and policies provide a legal framework for women to seek protection and support from the state while we work to change patriarchy and its related belief systems that seek to perpetuate ideas around male superiority and privileges.

It is in this context that I am concerned by the stance taken on the issue of women’s human rights at this year’s CSW, particularly on such a historic occassion. The Declaration made very little reference to the human rights of women, which was essentially negotiated out of the text. Across the globe women die because their rights are not protected.

It is estimated that 800 women die every day from preventable diseases related to pregnancy and childbirth. In 2013 alone, this amounted to almost 300 000 women. More than 50 percent of these deaths which occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, and one third in South Asia, are due to preventable diseases such as complications due to unsafe abortions, severe bleeding and infections after childbirth, to name a few.

South Africa launched its campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in 2012, focusing on women’s health, children’s health and nutrition strategy.

We are happy with the progress we have recorded thus far, but more still need to be done.

The issues I have highlighted earlier are all included in women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Yet, the Declaration passed at this year’s CSW did not, even once mention the term Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as some delegations feel that this is too controversial.

Is it really controversy to save the lives of women through providing them with needed services guaranteed by a human rights framework? What is controversial is when we let the lives of women perish from preventable diseases. What is even more controversial is when a global gathering dedicated to advance the rights of women such as the CSW shies away from confronting head-on, the challenges of women across the globe.

I hope that African leaders will take the initiative to change this agenda as it is the majority of our women that are most negatively affected by the absence of a robust human rights framework, as they did when the African Union adopted the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

If we consider that that so many women die from preventable deaths, with the fact that globally 1 in 3 women would be subjected to some kind of violence, then we have to consider that globally there is almost a war against women. In the United Nations, the issues of women’s human rights are often regarded as minor as this largely undemocratic and patriachal institution regards what is termed peace and security as the most important issues of the day.

I am not saying that peace and security are not important, but if one looks at the numbers of women dying from preventable diseases, from intimate partner violence and from being raped and killed during times of conflict, then the human rights and protection of women is indeed, an issue of peace and security that requires the serious attention of the world’s decision makers.
We should not continue to tolerate attitudes that say that lives and rights of women are too controversial to be addressed so that we can find lasting solutions for women across the world. The issues that may appear to be ‘divisive’ to political groupings in multi-lateral negotiations are precisely the kind of issues that should unite the world community to push forward the agenda that started 20 years ago in Beijing.

The evidence as to what happens to women in the absence of rights and services is too hard and overwhelming to ignore. This must spur us to decisive collective action. Failure to speak out clearly on the human rights of women amounts to tolerating and legitimising the high global mortality and morbidity rates for women.

In this case, ladies and gentlemen, silence is indeed complicity. We cannot and should not tolerate this any longer.

The UN must be engaged with the peace and security concerns of the majority of its global citizens-women, who are often the biggest victims of poor laws, policies and conflict in a largely patriarchal society.

The policy nexus that I am talking about includes resistance by countries in the West to efforts to eliminate inequalities within and between countries. The economic policies and global infrastructure that impoverish countries in the global South and enrich the peoples and countries in the West, are part and parcel of the factors that impoverish and oppress women.

Globally, the face of poverty is women, who are most affected by the destruction of the environment through exploitative economic practises.

The undemocratic nature of global economic relations is also a form of patriarchy. The ideology of superiority that entitles countries of the West to extract the resource base of countries of the South is exactly the same ideology that gave rise to racism, slavery, colonialism and patriarchy within countries.

It is for this reason that I believe that we cannot and should not create a false dichotomy between the struggles for women’s human rights and the struggle for a more equitable global economic compact. The Declaration on the Right to Development provides the global community with a mechanism to overcome this artificial divide between development and human rights. It focuses on both the rights of countries to control their own resources and the fundamental rights and freedoms of people living within those countries.
Almost 30 years after the Declaration on the Right to Development, more than 60 years after the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and 20 years after Beijing, it is indeed time to ensure that the global community act to ensure that indeed, no-one is left behind, politically, socially and economically. And this includes all people, irrespective of sex, race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation of gender equality or geographic location.

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come to keep the Beijing fire burning and to translate both the Declaration and the Platform into a living reality for the majority of women across the globe. And that time is now!

I thank you.

[download id=”2895″]

The Africa We Want – Gaps in CAP

During the pre-CSW preparatory meeting that took place in Addis from 6-8th February 2014, FEMNET presented its position on the Common Africa Position (CAP) which was adopted during the Heads of State Summit in Addis in January. In this presentation, we identify some of the positive aspects of CAP as well as some of the gaps which we hope will be rectified as to ensure CAP reflects the ambitions, aspirations and lived realities of all Africans and advocates for a stand-alone pillar on gender equality, women’s empowerment and the realization of women’s rights.

Please see the attached documents for more information – presentation, policy brief and President Sirleaf’s Report on Post 2015 which includes the CAP as the annex.

[download id=”2881″] [download id=”2883″] [download id=”2885″]

OWG 6 – Intervention – Means of Implementation

Thank you for the floor Chair. I am Nebila Abdulmelik with FEMNET, a pan African organization working to advance women’s rights, speaking on behalf of the Women’s Major Group.
On Means of Implementation, I would like to address a few points on financing and partnerships.
A global partnership in the SDGs needs to stand for meaningful analyses and reforms of global systemic issues in trade, finance, macroeconomic, industrial and financial policies, as well as social policies concerning women and the care economy, senior citizens, indigenous, differently abed and all those marginalized or discriminated. The reforms are necessary in order to remove the main impediments to development and secure an accommodating international environment for sustainable development.
It is reassuring to hear interventions that speak of a shift away from the traditional donor-recipient relationship. It is essential that there is a shift in the power dynamics between and amongst partners for a global partnership that is accountable and transparent for all parties, one that is justice and human rights centred and based, and therefore one that gives true voice and agency to the most marginalized. This will give rise to a global partnership that fosters ownership – which is critical for the realization of the SDGs.

Chair, you asked us for targets. One of our targets is increased domestic resource mobilization. How do we do this? Through a number of radical reforms – including tax reforms that see implementation of progressive taxation. This would mean that we must overturn the current status where huge multi-national corporations that have multi-million dollar profits enjoy tax breaks while the mama mbogas as we call them, or the woman who is running a very small scale business selling vegetables and fruits on the streets and is taxed a burdensome percentage of her income. These reforms would also see reversal of regressive tax on essential products, jeopardizing livelihoods.
One of our asks has been women and girl’s access to, control over and ownership of resources, including technology and information that would promote transparency and accountability. This is essential to ensure that we are able to monitor how our budgets are being spent, that they are gender-responsive, that our fiscal policies support rather than undermine human rights – for example a reduction in spending on militarization and an increase in spending on social services and social protection mechanisms – particularly for the most marginalized in our communities.
Civil society organizations, including women rights organizations must be meaningfully engaged in the articulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Means of Implementation.
We must get the means of Implementation right if we are to see truly transformative SDGs that create conditions for all of us, and generations to come, to lead dignified lives. I thank you.
December 11, 2013
Intervention made during OWG 6, Means of Implementation

[download id=”2877″]