Africa: African Women Officials Call Upon UN for Gender Perspective on Crises

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WUNRN
More than 15 African Ministers from Africa are attending the Commission on the Status of Women session in New York and call for countries to take into account the unique perspective of African women.
ECA's Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo says: “We have fought so hard for women's empowerment, but now we are seeing that the global economic, food and climate change crises are threatening to compromise our hard-fought gains. We need to focus on how higher food prices and how climate are impacting the lives women. We need solutions for these challenges and we need them quickly.”
The Commission began its deliberations on 2 March and will discuss the progress toward implementing efforts to ensure respect for women's rights across the world. The theme of this year's session is ‘Equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV and AIDS.”

The African leaders are calling for additional financing for gender equality and for collecting reliable data on gender equality, women's empowerment and violence against women and girls. Establishing sound data is a necessary precondition for establishing the best policies and monitoring the effectiveness of action. In addition, the African women are endorsing the UN-wide campaign to end violence against women and girls, which is spearheaded in Africa by UNIFEM.

The African ministers are promoting awareness for the launch of the 2010-2020 African Women's Decade which was recently declared by the African Union Summit. According to Litha Musiyimi-Ogana, AU Commission Director of Women, Gender and Development, the decade is geared toward maintaining the momentum for empowering African women in the context of the current economic and financial crisis.

“The African Women's Decade must safeguard the gains that women have already painstakingly earned and should galvanize political will to find the resources for further progress,” said Ms Musiyimi-Ogana. At the same time, the African leaders attending the Commission are signaling their intention to expand the 15-year review of the Beijing Women's Conference. The review will determine the progress that countries have made in implementing the Beijing Platform for Women, the document that laid out key areas for improvement. African women are asking that this review takes into account the impact of global food shortages, price hikes and climate change on Africa 's women.

UN Economic Commission for Africa is convening a regional Beijing + 15 ministerial review of the Beijing Ministers this October in Addis Ababa to conduct a crucial stocktaking to determine how much still remains to be achieved toward equality and women's empowerment. The recently held African Development Forum VI in Addis Ababa came up with the conclusion that although much has been achieved, more needs to be done for the full achievement of gender equality and women's empowerment in Africa . Studies and statistics continue to show that access to resources is not equitable between men and women across Africa ; and violence against women and girls in conflict and situations of insecurity has reached alarming levels, contributing also to to the spread of HIV/AIDs infections amongst women.

ECA's Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo, who heads the African Centre for Gender and Social Development, says the Beijing + 15 review is a fundamental prerequisite for forward progress for African women in the development of their continent.

“We have fought so hard for women's empowerment, but now we are seeing that the global economic, food and climate change crises are threatening to compromise our hard-fought gains. We need to focus on how higher food prices and how climate are impacting the lives women. We need solutions for these challenges and we need them quickly.”

Ms Isatou Njie Saidy , Vice-President of the Gambia, Ms. Litha Musiyimi-Ogana , African Union Commission Director of Women, Gender and Development, and Ms Micheline Ravoronalisa , UNIFEM African Region Director, and Ms. Houda Mejri from the ECA's African Centre for Gender and Social Development,the will give a press conference on Wednesday 4 March at 3:00 pm in Room 226 to brief the media on these various initiatives and present the Africa gender perspective.

03 March 2009

Source: UN Economic Commission for Africa via WUNRN