African Union publishes review report of African Women’s Decade on Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
In early July 2022, the African Union published a final review report of the African Women’s Decade (AWD) focused on a grassroots approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The report details the progress and challenges experienced over the past ten years on women’s empowerment and gender equality at a grassroots level. It also outlines how member states have responded to issues of gender inequality and empowerment and identifies a path forward for the next ten years. The report covers the decade 2010-2020 and gives recommendations for the upcoming period of 2020-2030.
The report reviews Member States’ initiatives to accelerate implementation of the ten AWD themes, which are:
- fighting poverty and promoting the economic empowerment of women;
- agriculture and food security;
- women’s health, maternal mortality, and HIV & AIDS;
- education, science, and technology;
- environment and climate change;
- finance and gender budgets;
- peace and security and violence against women;
- governance and legal protection;
- women in decision-making positions; and
- mentoring youth (men and women) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The report notes a number of challenges that have been experienced in advancing women’s empowerment, noting, for example, that financial and resource scarcity impedes access to healthcare for women and girls. It notes, however, that ongoing efforts to fight poverty and improve access to healthcare have borne fruit, with Member States having established funds for women’s businesses, implemented laws on women’s rights to work and equal pay, and outlawed harmful cultural practices such as child marriage that impede on the progress of women. Health interventions by Member States, such as access to Antiretroviral Treatment also reportedly increased, resulting in a reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. With regard to violence against women, it was noted that member states also passed laws to criminalize sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) and structures were put in place to protect victims and survivors of SGBV.
The report makes a number of recommendations for future action, including but not limited to:
- Acknowledging the importance of digital education, science and technology as emergent areas, the report recommends increased political will to prioritise basic and information communication and technology literacy and to ensure access to education for pregnant women and girls outside of the traditional education system;
- Member States should close gaps in digital financial services and expand infrastructure networks for electricity and telecommunications in order to improve digital education and access;
- Member States should increase the number of healthcare practitioners in the next decade to improve access to healthcare for women and girls;
- The African Union should adopt legal instruments to establish institutional gender-responsive budgeting and data collection as continental standards;
- The African Union should establish the new Trust Fund for Women as proposed by the Executive Council to grant finance to African women; and
- The African Union should ensure that the next AWD promotes women’s role as investors in addressing women’s economic empowerment needs, amongst other things.
The report can be accessed here.
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