ACORD calls on African governments to hasten implementation of global recommendations for gender equality as world marks International Women's Day
The Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development, ACORD, is concerned at the slow pace in which African governments are implementing recommendations made 20 years ago in 1995 by the Fourth World Conference on Women and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.
The Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), considered as one of the most important global frameworks for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, was the development of the conference.
BPFA outlines strategic objectives and key actions for governments, the international community and civil society, as well as the private sector, to commit to women and girls empowerment through 12 critical areas: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, the economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights, the media, the environment and the girl child.
For effective implementation, the BPFA has been reviewed each five years to assess country progress, gaps and challenges. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has led this process. There have been three reviews to date: in 2000, 2005 and 2010.
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According to Ms. Salina Sanou, ACORD’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, the major challenge still lies in the limited implementation and monitoring of those rights guaranteed by the constitutions.
“These rights have not translated into access and benefits for women and girls,” she says. “It is therefore recommended that the governments should do more to actively implement existing laws and policies, the Beijing Declaration and other regional and international commitments that these governments signed.”
Ms. Aminata Ndiaye, ACORD’s Gender Thematic Manager, says it is vital that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes a strong emphasis on realising women’s and girls’ rights and promoting gender equality and that their implementation at national level is integrated with on-going implementation of existing commitments, including the Beijing Declaration.
“There is a dire need to continue empowering women economically and educationally, to ensure that women’s representation and effective participation in decision making organs is increased and in doing so to eradicate the feminization of poverty,” she says.
She said governments should implement gender responsive budgets and set up mechanisms to hold all ministries, government departments and the relevant sectors accountable for addressing women’s empowerment and gender equality.
This year’s review of the BPFA is unique as it is the 20th anniversary of the platform. The United Nations Economic and Social Council has called on member states to undertake national level reviews. The outcome of these reviews will contribute to joint regional level reviews in different parts of the word and these will be presented during the 59th session of the CSW and on the website of UN Women. In this regard, ACORD will be launching a landmark report “Looking Back, Moving Forward! Multi-Actor Voices on the Implementation of the Beijing Plan of Action and its Impact on Women's Empowerment in Africa” during the 59th session of the CSW to take place in New York in March.
International Women's Day is marked annually on March 8 as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. This year’s theme is “Make it happen” which encourages effective action for advancing and recognising women.