Revisiting The Beijing Journey: Progress, Gaps and Emerging Issues

JOURNEY: Progress, Gaps
and Emerging Issues
Outline of the presentation
International conferences and normative frameworks-global
and regional- highlighting the journey on gender equality
Highlight the gains on gender equality: progress so far
Some gaps and challenges
Critical emerging issues
Moving forward
We are gathered here today to reflect and to recognize the
hard-won achievements of women, civil society, governments
and the private sector on a regional scale
We are here today to map the way forward on the future we
want in Africa on gender equality and women’s empowerment
Women have travelled a long way over the past 30 years, while
the world has also changed in significant ways
The journey on gender equality and women’s empowerment
Recalling the issues and
highlighting the gains
Key milestones in the journey
1. The journey for gender equality and
women’s empowerment, and women’s
human rightsformally began in Mexico
City in 1975 at the World Conference of
the International Women's Year
Liberia, Rwanda, Cote
2. World Conference of the United
Nations Decade for Women in
Copenhagen in 1980
3. The World Conference to Review and
Appraise the Achievements of the UN
Decade for Women took place in Nairobi in
Strategic focus
1. Defined a World Plan of Action for the Implementation
of the Objectives of the International Women’s Year, which
offered a comprehensive set of guidelines for the
advancement of women through 1985; leading to the
establishment of the International Research and Training
Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and
the United Nations Development Fund for Women
2. Called for stronger national measures to ensure
women’s ownership and control of property, as well as
improvements in protecting women’s rights to inheritance,
child custody and nationality. Also emphasized that more
actions were required on employment opportunities,
adequate health care services and education.
3. Governments adopted the Nairobi Forward-Looking
Strategies for the Advancement of Women, which outlined
measures for achieving gender equality at the national
level and for promoting women’s participation in peace
and development efforts. Also recognized the necessity of
women to participate in discussions in all areas, and not
only on gender equality.
Key milestones in the journey
4. Vienna 1993 World Conference on
Human Rights
5. Cairo 1994: International Conference on
and Development
Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire
6. Beijing 1995: Fourth World Conference
of Women
Strategic focus
4. The Conference took historic new steps to promote and
protect the rights of women, children and indigenous
peoples by respectively, supporting the creation of a new
mechanism, a Special Rapporteur on Violence against
Women, subsequently appointed in 1994; This is also first
time that women’s rights were formally recognized as
human rights.
5. ICPD delegates reached a consensus that the equality
and empowerment of women is a global priority with a
woman’s ability to access reproductive health and rights as
a cornerstone of her empowerment. It is also the key to
sustainable development.
6. The BPFA outlined 12 critical issues, which constitute
barriers for the advancement of women, and identified a
range of actions that governments, the United Nations,
and civil society groups, should take to make women’s
human rights a reality
Global and Regional normative frameworks
UN frameworks and instruments, international conferences and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), provides the basis for
realizing equality between women and men.
The international normative frameworks are also backed by regional documents,
instruments and processes such as the:
1. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights reinforced by the Protocol to
the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in
Africa: The ACHPR was adopted in July 2003 and came into effect in 2005. The
adoption of the Women’s Rights Protocol sought to address the ACHPR’s omission of
women’s rights. Of the 53 AU member countries, 49 have signed the protocol.
2. The Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) 2004: SDGEA is
considered as a reporting framework and was adopted by AU heads of state and
government s at their July 2004 Summit
3. African Women’s Decade 2010-2020: The declaration of the Women’s Decade
(2010–2020) provides a road map for the realization of the objectives for the
Decade. The theme of the Decade is ‘Grass-roots Approach to Gender Equality and
Women’s Empowerment’, emphasizing a bottom-up approach to development.
Relevance of the normative framework for gender equality
These frameworks, adopted at the international level, paved the
way for the 1995 Beijing platform for Action which we are
reviewing today
These various normative frameworks and milestones are mutually
reinforcing, providing solid instruments for the fight against gender
The frameworks on gender equality and women’s empowerment
have informed regional approaches on the subject.
They will continue to serve as reference points for governments
and CSOs
Progress so far….
• Today many countries in Africa recognize in their
Constitutions the importance of gender equality.
• Regional organizations, multilateral and bilateral agencies
have integrated gender frameworks in their mandates and
many civil society groups acknowledge gender inequality
as one of the main fields of action for tackling injustice.
• Today we have a lot of evidence that confirms what
feminist researchers and practitioners have argued for the
last 30 years: that the contribution women make to
development is of paramount importance and unless
development benefits women, it will not benefit the rest of
the society.
Some of the country specific evidences include:
Across Africa: Gender inequality in education and employment is estimated to
have reduced per capita growth by 0.8% per year
Kenya: Giving women farmers the same level of agricultural inputs and
education as men could increase yields obtained by women by more than 20%
Zambia: If women enjoyed the same overall degree of capital investments in
agricultural outputs, including land, as their male counterparts, output could
increase by up to 15%.
Tanzania: Reducing time burdens of women could increase household cash
incomes for smallholder coffee and banana growers by 10%, labour productivity
by 15%, and capital productivity by 44%
Burkina Faso: Shifting existing resources between men’s and women’s plots
within the same household could increase output by 10-20%.
Achievements or Progress over time
Political participation and
women’s leadership role
for development
• Rwanda ranks 6th, on the Global Gender Gap Report
(2014) on political empowerment of women, next to
Sweden, but ahead of Denmark; South Africa is 12th while
Tanzania, Cape Verde and Senegal occupy between 20 to
30th positions out of 142 countries globally
• Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal are among the top 10
ranking countries for Women in Parliament, with Rwanda
ranking first and the only country that has more women in
parliament than men
• Two femal Presidents and a woman chair of the AU
• Implementation of 50/50 or 30% quota in many countries
Women as vehicles for
peace and actor for
Women in Africa have played significant roles in
peace processes in Sudan, DRC and Liberia. This led
to the global recognition of two African women as
the 2011 Nobel Peace Price winners in Liberia.
(Leymah Gbowee shared with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
and Tawakel Karma)
Achievements or Progress over time
reconstruction and
women in business
Possible impact on
women’s status
Women's Education leads to
significant social development.
Some of the most notable social
benefits include decreased
fertility rates and lower infant
mortality rates, and lower
Maternal mortality rate
Increases in the amount of female
education in regions tends to
correlate with high levels of
development. Women's education
increases the income of women
and leads to growth in GDP.
Women reinvest a greater percentage of
their earnings in their families and
Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa rank among the top
countries on the GGG report of 2014
Nine countries from Sub-Saharan Africa are in the top
20 on the labour force participation indicator. Malawi, Mozambique,
Rwanda and Burundi all have a higher representation of women in
the labour force than men.
Burkina Faso has made the most progress on closing
the gender gap in education
4 African women are among the Forbes list of the
world’s most powerful black women: Minister of Finance in
Nigeria- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; President of Liberia – Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf; former president of Malawi – Joyce Banda and
Folorunsho Alakija, Nigeria’s first female billionaire is a new
entrant to the league of the world’s most powerful women on the
2014 Forbes list.
Among the 30 most promising entreprenuers in Africa is
Senai Wolderufael, Ethiopian founder of Feed Green Ethiopia
Exports Company, an Addis Ababa-based outfit that produces and
exports popular Ethiopian spice blends. The company employs only
• Inadequate investment in
social protection
• Unpaid Care Work
Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Cote
Social protection is important because it extends
security to the poorest people, enabling them to
protect, or even build, their human and physical capital.
• Recognizing women’s contribution to the economy and
reducing and redistributing their care burden still remains
a challenge on the continent;
• There are limited time use studies on the continent to
inform policy.
• Health systems weaknesses
and the Ebola crisis
• Weaknesses in the health systems leave a toll on women
in Africa both through high maternal mortality ratesdecreasing at a slow pace- and also through the impact of
outbreaks and the distribution of the cost of public and
private cost of care.
• Financing for gender
• Identified in the 2009 (Beijing+15) review in Banjul
and still remains a challenge.
Emerging issues
• Structural
transformation and
industrialization in
Africa –
Strategic positioning of GEWE
1. Industrialization has re-emerged as the top priority on the Africa policy
agenda. African governments have registered increased commitments to
industrialize their economies. Gender equality and women’s empowerment
programmes and initiatives must be situated within this context.
2. women’s access to finance, women in informal trade and small scale
processing should be designed to support women to take advantage of the
industrialization process in Africa.
Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda,
Cote d’Ivoire
• Work in key
productive sectors:
agriculture and
extractive industries
• Climate change
1. Gender equality and women’s empowerment work should be situated in
key and strategic sectors of the economy in Africa. Agriculture remains a
key influencing sector and strengthening agriculture value chains with a
gender focus should be a priority. Also, a related and emerging sector of
importance is the extractive industries
2. Africa’s economic growth over the past years have been influenced by
exports of it natural resources to which women contribute. Women’s role in
the natural resource sector highlighted as should their gains of such exports
should be harnessed.
1. Building the resilience of population most affected by climate change and
ensuring the gains from climate finance are equally shared among men and
women remains a challenge. Also linking climate change to food security.
The journey continues: unfinished business but moving forward
• Be strategic in influencing ongoing regional and global processes such as the
SDGs, Post 2015 development agenda, AU summit of 2015, CSW 2015:
reviewing BPfA
• Identify bold interventions that will ensure tangible and sustainable changes
that will be felt and seen at the local level: the “ordinary woman” in the village
and the women in the slums of growing cities.
• Forge strategic partnerships with critical “agents of change” and partners such
as Ministries of Finance and Development, Ministries of Environment,
Ministries of Mineral Resources etc
• Work with ‘unusual’ partners, especially the private sector as gender equality
issues pertains to all. Public policy and institutions alone cannot elicit the
required results for gender equality.
We have come a long way as a region in addressing
gender inequalities and have made gains along the
We are however mindful of the persisting challenges
and bottlenecks to achieving full gender equality on
the continent
We are committed to continue working with you to
take advantage of the global processes-SDGs, post
2015 development agenda, CSW 2015 etc in
ensuring sound frameworks for the implementation
of gender equality goals
Finally, achieving “gender equality” and ending
discrimination against women and girls requires the
involvement of men and boys, families, communities
and nations and the international community. We
remain committed to working with you and to
ensure a continent free of all gender inequalities!!

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