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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.

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Briefing on SRHR and SDGs - FEMNET-cover

Leaving no One Behind in SRHR: Tag along all; feminists, chauvinists, moderates, culturists and religious

The National CSOs training on SRHR and SDGs was a highly packed interactive event with a dynamic mix of stakeholders. The goal of the training, organized by FEMNET in partnership with International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) and Civicus World Alliance for Citizen Participation, was to ‘enhance the capacity of women’s rights advocates to be able to engage policymakers on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and SDGs in Kenya’.

Achieving the Africa We Want requires widespread stakeholder engagement and aligning the various protocols, principles and laws with real actions.

While the discussions focused on array of issues around the SRHR and the relevant laws/policies/declarations like the Maputo Protocol, Maputo Plan of Action and Abuja Declaration as well as the Kenyan Constitution, the coffee table like debates and TV format presentations brought to the fore some salient issues that need to be addressed by the stakeholders.

For instance, picture these:-

  1. A young lady, sexually active, not married, stays with ‘overbearing and possessive parents who dare not talk about sex with her’, gets pregnant, is abandoned by the boyfriend and infected with STIs, stigmatized by peers and left at the mercy of fate.
  2. A young boy who is sexually active, but feels embarrassed to buy condoms from a community chemist and forces the girlfriend to use emergency pills as much as twice a week. Scientifically, the e-pills are stronger than the normal pills, as they are to be used for emergency
  3. A married couple who find it hard to talk about contraceptives yet not ready to have more children.
  4. Unmarried and married women who procure abortion with or without the knowledge of partner and suffers post abortion disorders yet not willing to seek help for fear of being stigmatized.

These are some of the issues that marked the day one of the CSOs training. Of course no one is to blame for the myths surrounding SRHR but there is need to have bold conversations to demystify them and foster learning. The discussants agreed that SRHR is a complex issue that requires unique approach and takes into account socio-economic, cultural and religious connotations.

This brings us to the next issue; is SRHR a woman issue?

Conventionally, the chauvinists perceive the topic as a feminist issue that should be lumped together with maternal issues. However, SRHR is a developmental issue and concerns all human beings. The Programme for Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 placed human rights (including the right to plan one’s family) sexual and reproductive health and gender equality at the very heart of sustainable development. Both men and women have sexual and reproductive rights that must be respected, protected and fulfilled. The newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (also being referred to us the SDGs) promises to leave no one behind and therefore SRHR programmes and initiatives must always tag everyone a long; men, women, boys and girls. True to the concept note, no one was left behind;

 

So what next?

We all agreed that there are sufficient laws to address SRHR, though specific national legislations are required to monitor implementation. It is expected that the Reproductive Health Care Bill (2014) will enhance an individual’s right to make decisions regarding reproduction free from discrimination, coercion and violence.

Demanding accountability from duty bearers such as county governments, capacity building and alliances formation characterized by intense grassroots reach, citizen journalism and citizen generated data are crucial in achieving the SDGs. Specific focuses must be made on particular vulnerable groups such as the youth, abused/raped women, adolescents, elderly, HIV positive people, and people living with disabilities.

All in all, achieving SRHR requires proactive intergenerational actions and grassroot based approaches to implement the relevant policies and laws.  The cross cutting issues, outlined by the delegates, require involvement of all stakeholders; their affiliations, beliefs, backgrounds and aspirations. In solidarity with the silent suffering majority, the myth, the stigmas, the misconceptions, the innuendos, the abuses, the violations and the reckless behaviors must STOP.

 

Article by Michael Asudi, Country Coordinator, Organization of Africa Youth.

 

 

STATEMENT by African Women & Girls on Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

African Women & Girls Call on their Governments to Support Gender Equality in Totality in the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development

 (endorsed by over 140 organizations)

African Heads of State and Government will join their counterparts in New York from 25th to 27thSeptember 2015, to adopt the Post-2015 development agenda currently titled Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in a landmark Summit that crowns several years of consultations and negotiations.

As advocates for the rights of women and girls in Africa, we noted with concern that during the negotiation phase several governments, including some African governments, expressed reservations on goals and targets related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The African continent has some of the most progressive and inclusive regional instruments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, adopted by all 54 member states of the African Union (AU). These include The Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2006) which aims to achieve universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services by 2015; The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) popularly known as ‘Maputo Protocol’ which contains explicit provisions on the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health and the Common Africa Position (CAP) developed through wide consultation of different African stakeholders and adopted by the African Heads of State and Government as its united position on the Post-2015 development agenda. Further information on the specific provisions of the above instruments are annexed to this Statement.

Under the leadership and mechanisms of the AU, these instruments have been implemented to various degrees in individual member states, with increasing emphasis on monitoring and accountability.

 

In the recent concluded African Union Summit in June 2015, convened under the theme “Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa Agenda 2063”, African Heads of State and Government, re-stated their commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights by resolving to “ensure that Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights of African women are implemented and mutually accounted for in the existing commitments to women’s reproductive health and rights, as adopted by the African Heads of State in the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol) in 2003, and the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in 2006.”[1]

Based on the regional commitments above and various national commitments at constitutional, legal and policy level, Africa has made commitments in line with the two key targets on SRHR in the Sustainable Development Goals, namely:

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes;

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

We therefore urge our Heads of State and Government to stand in solidarity with the millions of African women and girls affected by poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and explicitly support the SRHR targets 3.7 and 5.6 in the Post-2015 development agenda without any reservation.

We pledge our support to working with you to make these targets a reality.

 


[1] Assembly of the African Union. Twenty Fifth Ordinary Session. 14-15 June 2015. Johannesburg South Africa. Assembly/AU/Decl.1(XXV). Declaration on 2015 Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063. Doc. Assembly/AU/2(XXV). http://summits.au.int/en/sites/default/files/Assembly%20AU%20Dec%20569%20-%20587%20%28XXIV%29%20_E.pdf

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Report – African Feminist Meeting Post 2015 Agenda & Financing for Development

“If you want to control the pace of the dance, you better be the one behind the drum.”
African Proverb​

​Representatives of African women’s rights organizations, trade unions, peace and civil society organizations, indigenous, faith-based and community-based organizations, media and academia from 17 countries working in the spheres of agriculture, environment, finance, governance, health, law, leadership and trade met in Nairobi, Kenya from 6 – 8 May 2015 to reflect on issues of Financing for Development (FfD) and the Post-2015 Agenda. This meeting was organized FEMNET (the African Women’s Development and Communication Network), African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition, with additional financial support from the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).

Through the presentations and interactive group discussions, participants shared insights on the two processes as they identified the opportunities and challenges for the realization of women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment at the national, sub-regional and regional levels that feed into these global discussions.

​Click to download, read and share the Report and view photos here.

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Policy Recommendations – Financing for Development

We, the representatives of African women’s rights organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations including peace-building, indigenous, faith-based and community based organizations, media and academia from across 17 countries working in the spheres of environment, agriculture, finance, health, leadership, governance, law and trade met in Nairobi from 6 – 8 May 2015 to reflect on the current debates and negotiations taking place in the Financing for Development (FfD) and the Post 2015 Agenda processes. We wish to add our voices to these deliberations to ensure that crosscutting issues that have an impact on the positive progression of women and girl’s rights and gender equality are addressed.

Ahead of the 3rd International Review Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) that will be held in July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as the adoption of the Post 2015 Development Agenda in September 2015; we acknowledge the need for models of financing for sustainable development underpinned by principles of economic and social justice with a gender-responsive approach. In addition, African women must be meaningfully included in policy discussions, in the articulation, development, implementation, and the monitoring and evaluation of these processes.