The African Union Commission has challenged African states to implement, at least, two policies backed by action plans geared towards gender equality in 2016.
In a speech at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to mark International Women’s Day, which is being celebrated across the globe today 8 March 2016, the chairperson of the Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said: “International Women’s Day is indeed a call to action. I therefore call on all of Africa to implement at least two high-impact actions in 2016 that support gender equality and women’s empowerment in furtherance of Agenda 2063”.
The event was held at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, organised by the Directorate of Women, Gender and Development of the AU Commission, under the theme: ‘Agenda 2063: A Pledge for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’.
Dr Zuma further indicated that there has been significant progress chalked by the commission in pushing for the Gender Agenda in Africa.
She stated that access to education has increased for girls at all levels; governments in many countries are taking steps to protect women and girls from violence, including by adopting new laws; and many countries have put in place legislation to promote women’s rights including access to land.
She further stated that: “This year, being the African Union Year of Human Rights with a specific focus on the rights of women, provides yet another opportunity to celebrate African women, while also highlighting issues of concern, such as persistent gender inequalities that hinder women from fully enjoying their human rights.”
She, however, noted that there was more to do to bridge the gap between men and women. According to her, both African women and men of goodwill need to dismantle the gender barriers and ensure that African women’s potentials are realised.
“As you know, women are key contributors to global economies and play a critical role in the development of their societies. Without the equal and effective participation of women in all spheres of socio-political and economic life, the vision of agenda 2063 might not be realised,” she added.