OWG 6 Intervention – Africa

Thank you for the floor Chair. I am Nebila Abdulmelik with FEMNET and the Womens Major Group speaking on Africa. I hope that we all appreciate this tall task considering the diversity of realities across and within the more than 50 states that make up this beautiful continent. As the brief mentioned, Africa is home to LDCs, LLDCs, SIDs and MICs.
A number of our countries have registered double digit growth over the past 10 years or so. However, we are concerned that this growth hasn’t yielded full, decent employment that provides living wages, benefits and social protection mechanisms, meaning that the growth has not translated into real change in people’s lives and has in fact exacerbated gender, spatial and income inequalities. Measures put in place to remedy this must be people centred with the most marginalized at the center and equity, justice and rights based.


Land grabs, sometimes dubbed large scale land acquisitions are taking place at alarming levels, often displacing local communities, without their prior, informed consent and coupled with the patenting of seeds undermining local and indigenous knowledge systems, all of which threaten food sovereignty and ultimately the livelihoods of millions, which is particularly troubling with estimates of one in four who go hungry on a daily basis.
All forms of sexual and gender based violence, which are among the most pervasive human rights violations and which have irreversible socio-economic implications must be eliminated. This is particularly pertinent considering that 120 million girls in our region have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting. Additionally, every year a country the size of Zimbabwe, 14 million, is created solely composed of child brides, some as young as 5. One out of three girls and women face violence in their lifetime. Although Africa has seen a decline in maternal mortality, the figure of 440 women dying daily is unacceptably high. These statistics are unacceptable and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
As UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile said yesterday on the occasion of Human Rights Day, ‘Madiba showed us that none of us are free unless all of us are free. Our hopes for a just, equitable, safe and peaceful world can only be achieved when there is universal respect for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family’.
I thank you.
December 11, 2013
OWG6, Countries in Special Needs

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Proposed Views & Options to Advance the UNFCCC Decision (23/CP18) on Gender Balance

On 25th July 2013, a Roundtable discussion spearheaded by IEWM and co-organized in partnership with CCN-Kenya, PACJA and FEMNET, resulted in key recommendations and immediate actions to advance the gender balance decision (23/CP18) as adopted by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the eighteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) in Doha last year in December.

Two sets of recommendations were made as follows:-

a. The first set of recommendations was to the UNFCCC Secretariat

b. The second set of recommendations to the national government

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African Women Stand Out

By Stany Nzobonimpa


This article analyzes the gains made by women during last fifty years following independence in many countries and in the socio-economic development of the continent. Over this period, Africa has experienced significant changes at almost all levels and the focus on women and girls has been one of the most frequent topics in conferences on the continent. The African feminist movement has made major steps forward. In my opinion this is the most memorable part of the 50th anniversary celebrations in May 2013.


The African Union and Women of Africa
The success of the Pan-African movement is undoubtedly visible through the efforts to build Pan-African organisations that advance women’s rights. The African Union, initially called the Organisation of the African Unity was viewed by many analysts as an anti-West and purely revolutionary organisation.

Over the decades and particularly in the last ten years, new gender and women’s rights standards such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa have emerged to promote and protect women. The vision of African Union is a modern continent where women, like men, are involved in the daily affairs of daily life. States have made significant gains in combating discrimination and violence against women. These texts and other documents at country level have created a very different vision for Africa namely; a respectful, dignified continent that is ready to tackle the challenges it faces.
Pan-Africanism, Women and Sustainable Development in Africa

The contemporary history of this continent is one of political instability, civil wars followed by fierce poverty. Regions such as the Great Lakes, West and Central Africa have been the case-studies of persistent instability. Just after independence, we witnessed its social fabric torn apart by genocide, dictatorships and human rights violations and reduced to the “destitute” continent. It should be noted here that one of the key objectives of the Pan-Africanist Movement was to create an independent, peaceful and prosperous Africa. It was essential for Africa to mobilize a strong and positive force to get out of the stalemate. Advancing women’s rights was essential as one of the ways of tackling the issues of Africa. Indeed, the role of women in promoting peace was of paramount importance. Thus, by seeking to address the challenges of war and poverty, the movement that unites Africa has been indirectly advancing the rights of women. In dealing with other issues like AIDS, malaria, the problems created by globalization and other phenomena of concern for Africa, Africans are strengthening the socio-economic development of the continent and, therefore, a better future for African women.

The African Diaspora and Its Role in Advancing Women
For a long time, the Pan-Africanist movement was considered as a movement of the African Diaspora. Indeed, as the movement was initiated by Africans living outside the Continent. The Diaspora has been contributing greatly to the economic development of Africa but its role in advancing gender equality is particularly significant. We have seen efforts to encourage the education of girl child in many countries including Burundi. After decades without role models for young girls, we can now count several including Dambisa Moyo, Fatou Bensouda and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. They and many other women are currently shaping the contemporary history of the continent. They are powerful role models for the minds of many young African girls.

While the Pan-African movement has certainly played a very noticeable role in the advancement of women, the reverse is also true. Women’s action in the promotion of pan-Africanism is no less important. The leading pan-Africanist organisation is today headed by a woman, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma.

Particularly in the years since independence, the place occupied by women has become very important in the African society. Women have played a very important role in building the continent. This is envisaged by African leaders at the highest level, elaborated by a number of declarations and policy standards and texts and underpinned by a culture of respect for women. Pan-Africanism and women’s rights advancement are therefore two sides of the same coin. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU we cannot forget this.

1. Jean Baptiste André KATTIE, Le Panafricanisme : Quelle Contribution à la construction des Etats-Unis d’Afrique ? Catholic University of West Africa, Abidjan, Master Thesis in Political Science, 2008
2. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, excerpt taken on 6/4/2013 fromhttp://www.achpr.org/fr/instruments/women-protocol/

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Rising Africa – Myth or Reality?

By Fatma Mohamed Alloo

Addis Ababa was a busy hub with the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance in the 21st Century that took place on 22-23rd May, 2013, prior to the Heads of State meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of African Union.

Some eighty members of civil society mixed with former heads of states, U.N. agencies, to reinterpret, assess and set our agenda of what is to become of our Pan-Africanism. Sixty percent of the participants were women.Those who came from the era when Pan-Africanism came into being reminisced its birth.

As DuBois would say “Shall we put on our beautiful robes of Pan-Africanism and fight?”

Africa awake, put on the beautiful robes of Pan-African Socialism.
You have nothing to lose but your chains!
You have a continent to regain!
You have freedom and human dignity to attain!

Hon. Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique (1986 to 2005) recalled how the Africanness of the movement steeled with fierce spirit of nationalism. Political independence was the cry of the continent, as was agreed by other activists of that era in the room.

The UNECA Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes, reminded us of the originality of pan-Africanism though the diasporic contribution of people like W.E.B. Du Bois and many others-an identity birthed through pangs of Africa with slavery as a historical fact. No other continent can pride itself of such a bonded historical identity of its people. “African Unity then was a symbol of our dignity” chided Professor Horace Cambell, Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in the USA.

When the activists of the era faced an ideological confrontation between the Monrovia and the Casablanca school of thought, it is to Addis Ababa they headed and under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selasie and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was born in 1963.

Political liberation was the agenda and the cry of the continent then. OAU spent its energies towards this end and if one is to assess, it has been successful enough to justify celebrations of 50 years of African Unity (AU), the forum discussed. The 7th Pan African Congress which took place in Kampala, Uganda in April 3-8, 1994 bears witness to a committed unity of Africa as a strong pan-Africanist, the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem used to state– “Don’t agonize, organize!”

The former President of Republic of Mauritius, Hon. Karl Auguste Offman reiterated that “If small Mauritius, not endowed with natural resources and prone to hurricanes can arise, so can the rest of Africa. It just needs a mind-set of dignity of peoples and political will to do it.”

From a Doomed to Rising Continent: Whose Agenda?

A strong debate ensued in the forum on where then did we go wrong. Was it that leaders then did not involve citizens in its political and economic path? “As leaders, we accepted to be neo–colonized” chided Hon. Chissano.

But now we are said to be analyzed by the Economist as the rising continent when a decade ago we were a doomed continent. What do we say about ourselves?” We are being organized for other peoples’ agenda? With our internal corruptions we have become easy prey to deplete our natural resources. The west has hit a hard wall in their quest for a capitalist oriented economic system. Africa is a rich and virgin territory where the world’s powers know that they can get away with much at the expense of the people of Africa. “With this wind of change, we have to be cautious” warned a veteran journalist Jenrali Ulimwengu from Tanzania. When they say Africa is rising they mean the fruit is ripe, come and pick it” agreed Ebrima Sall, Executive Secretary of CODESRIA while Charles Abugre, Africa Regional Director of UN Millennium Campaign lamented on the need for transform the production system.

Real stories must be told now. Who is immigrating to where? It is the west who are now coming to our land for greener pastures, participants observed. And when they meet systems that resist them they do move in force and destroy the system that exists which is the sad story of Libya. Total and full unification of Africa is but a necessity now, warned Prof. Horace Campbell who also called on the need to honour the Racism Conference resolution held in Durban on the issue of reparation of Africans taken from their motherland so as the dignity that is Africa is publicly restored.

As the debate raged over the position of women, and as younger generation wondered if AU has the capacity to regenerate Pan Africanism and Renaissance in its true spirits, the forum was once again reminded that movements are born out of dreams of the impossible. The ones making it possible are the people themselves. The fact that this forum was already a network of organized forces is a step forward. The fact that majority of the participants were women is another step forward and the fact that youths also not only participated but used cultural expressions to generate passionate commitments within the forum was a very positive sign that times are changing. Africa Unite. Let there be no borders to cross amongst us. The fact that we remain within the parameters drawn for us in the 1884 Berlin Conference shows that we do have a long way to go to decolonize our mindset.

As the two day meeting drew to a close, one could not help but recollect a deep thought to ponder on. Demographically, as Lopes observed, we in Africa are the youngest continent. The west is an aging continent with dwindling young population. In 2063, 50 years on, we are going to be even younger. As we negotiate our own intergenerational contract the continent, how do we take the positioning of our rising continent-AFRICA. As DuBois would say “Shall we put on our beautiful robes of Pan-Africanism and fight?”

Africa awake, put on the beautiful robes of Pan-African Socialism.
You have nothing to lose but your chains!
You have a continent to regain!
You have freedom and human dignity to attain!

Additional Info

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