Laying the foundation for the promotion of gender equality in Africa
The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Constitutive Act of the African Union underscore the principle of promoting gender equality on the continent as a prerequisite for achieving inclusive and sustainable development on the continent.
Specifically the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Protocol to the Constitutive act state that the Union will promote Gender Equality and ensure the effective participation of women in decision-making, particularly in the political, economic and socio-cultural areas.
These legal frameworks along with other key decisions and declarations of the African Union as well as international conventions on the rights of women and girls are at the core of the African Union’s Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE).
The GEWE strategy for the period of years from 2018 – 2028 identifies and proposes practical measures to eliminate the major social and economic constraints hindering gender equality and women’s empowerment if Africa is to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063 and specifically Aspiration 6 which envisions “An Africa where development is people driven, relying upon the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children.”
The strategy is aligned to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular, goal number 5 which aims to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
"I invite all the stakeholders concerned to use the African Union’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy as their compass for achieving Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063. I call for renewed mobilization throughout the continent so that this Strategy can be an additional lever for achieving concrete progress in which we can all take pride,” says Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson, African Union Commission.
With a specific goal of “full gender equality in all spheres of life”, the GEWE strategy is underpinned by four pillars:
- Maximising (economic) outcomes, opportunities and tech e-dividends
- Dignity, Security and Resilience
- Effective Laws, Policies and Institutions
- Leadership, Voice and Visibility.
The GEWE strategy not only identifies the root causes of gender inequality and gender gaps such as: patriarchal norms, poverty, discrimination against women and girls and weak political will and accountability; but also provides detailed actions and interventions that can be undertaken by institutions, policymakers and advocates for gender development to generate the intended outcomes that will improve a lot of women and girls on the continent.
The impact that the GEWE strategy is expected to have on African women, men, boys and girls, specifically those from poor and underprivileged areas, depends on the concrete nature of the measures and actions that each country will implement.
Along with the work that is being undertaken to promote the Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, the African Union advocates for the inclusion of the GEWE strategy in the national development strategies.
“This Strategy will guide what we ought to do, but it does not in itself achieve what we want to achieve. We will be judged not so much by the eloquence of the Strategy, which I think is terrific, but even more so by our capacity to implement it,” says Dr. Mèdessè Véronique Tognifodé Mewanou, the Chairperson, African Union Specialised Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
The GEWE strategy was officially launched on 26th February 2021 in a meeting which was attended by Ministers in charge of Gender and Women’s Affairs in Africa, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), International Partners and Civil Society organisations (CSOs).
While officially launching the Strategy, the Chairperson of the AU Specialised Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the Minister of Social Affairs and Microfinance, Republic of Benin, Dr. Mèdessè Véronique Tognifodé Mewanou, called upon all Member States and other stakeholders to own the strategy so that they are able to align it with their national strategies so that it contributes to alleviating poverty and enhancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Mr Stan Nkwain, the Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa (RSCA) reaffirmed UNDP’s continued commitment, in partnership with their sister UN Agencies and partners to support the Members States of the African Union, RECs and the regional CSOs in the realisation of their commitment to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Region.
He reiterated that UNDP will continue to work through their global, regional, and country initiatives and through collaboration with their key development partners.
Dr Nalan Yuksel, Deputy Director, Pan-Africa and Regional Development of the Embassy of Canada in Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of Canada and other the international partners who have supported the work of the African Union in promoting Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Africa including, Australia, Sweden, and the United States reiterated the Partners’ commitment and encouraged other partners, the AU member states and the RECs, to align their national poverty reduction strategies and regional programs with the pillars of the AU Gender Strategy.
She asserted that the implementation of each component of the Strategy can lead to strengthening the common stand on progress made to address women’s participation in public life and elimination of violence against women.
The comprehensive GEWE strategy is a stepping stone in the progress of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa.
Learn more about the African Union's strategies and guiding legal instruments that focus on the attainment of gender equality and women's empowerment in all spheres of life in Africa including developing and implementing policies and programmes that address issues related to women and girls’ rights, advocate for their protection and prohibit violence and harmful practices and other social norms that disempower women and girls.
These include the AU Strategy for Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
About the African Union
The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. The AU is guided by its vision of “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
To ensure the realisation of its objectives and the attainment of the Pan African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, Agenda 2063 was developed as a strategic framework for Africa’s long term socio-economic and integrative transformation. Agenda 2063 calls for greater collaboration and support for African led initiatives to ensure the achievement of the aspirations of African people. Learn more about the African Union and Agenda 2063 by visiting www.au.int
The Women, Gender and Youth Directorate of the African Union Commission is responsible for leading, guiding, defending and coordinating the AU's efforts on gender equality and development and promoting women and youth empowerment.