bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 4, Issue 5 — 11 March 2011
Africa Progress Panel
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1202 Geneva, Switzerland
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One Day a year is not enough!
Why do women still not have equal rights or full political participation after 100 years of celebrating International Women’s Day? One hundred years ago (and in many places, even more recently) these values were radical ideas, and although there has been much progress made there remains reason to be concerned.
The adoption by the AU of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in 2004 has given a new prominence to the issue of women’s rights. The election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President of Liberia was symbolic of change in Africa and of progress for women across the continent. Today, three African countries (Gambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe) have female Vice-Presidents. Rwanda’s parliament was the first in the world in which women took over half the seats; Lesotho has even achieved the greatest overall improvements in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index over the last five years.
But, as women on the continent know, this is not the full picture. Significant gender gaps persist in education, health, employment, wages and political participation. African women have not yet been empowered to play the role they should or to make the contribution they could. This is not only a human tragedy, but also a major brake on Africa’s development.
African women are often only protected in law, but not in reality. Lofty rhetoric about their empowerment is generally not matched by actions and resources. Women are still the first to suffer when economies shrink, food and nutrition security declines and diseases spread. They are still the first to be violated in conflict areas and in households. They are expected to bear and raise children, care for their families, and undertake unpaid work – and at the same time, not to complain, but to respect conventions and customary norms which have the effect of perpetuating their second class status.
While many problems rage around the continent part of the solution is self-evident: women. There is ample evidence that empowered women boost social and economic progress not least though increased household incomes, nutrition and education levels, and agricultural productivity.
Encouragingly, women across Africa are increasingly vocal about both their status in and contribution to society. More of them are assuming leadership roles in politics, government, business and civil society. More men are also willing to speak out in solidarity with women, to insist upon women’s full participation at all levels of decision making, and to campaign for equal treatment of women under the law, in public life, in business, and as agents of economic change.
What is clear is that gender equality and reaching the full potential will not be achieved by a one-day-a-year celebration.
- Six suspects in Kenya's post-election violence have been summoned to appear before the ICC on April 7, a move that could destabilize the country's coalition cabinet which is divided over the issue. Opinion polls show that many Kenyans want the trials to be held at the Hague while many members of Kenya's coalition cabinet want the country to pull out of ICC.
- Despite its historic referendum for southern independence, Sudan’s oil producing regions continue to experience violence just four months before the region is to become independent, thus raising fears of instability for the south and the contested Abyei border region.
- Now only weeks away from Nigeria’s 2011 elections, campaigning and its accompanying violence are in full swing. Surveillance and intelligence units have been deployed to beef up security waves of bomb blasts and continued ethnic and religious violence. Anxiety and tensions are mounting as people are full of hope that upcoming elections will boost efforts toward reform and reducing corruption.
- Analysts warn that there is a real threat of return to open civil war in Cote d'Ivoire, driven primarily by the failure of former President Laurent Gbagbo to admit electoral defeat. Despite broad international consensus on the election results, the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, and active mediation efforts, there is no consensus on what measures would actually help.
- In the face of relentless international pressure, Libya’s war intensifies as Gadhafi stuck to his assertion that youths misled and drugged by al Qaeda were to blame for the spiraling civil war in Libya MEP Ioannis Kasoulides warns that there is a real risk of prolonged civil war if Gaddafi succeeds in resisting his country's revolution.
- Anti-government demonstrations spreading across Northern Africa, seem to have inspired demonstrations in other African countries. In Cameroon, protests have been called to demand the removal of President Biya. In Mauritania, demonstrations were organized via face book demanding for social and political reforms; albeit more peaceful in nature than experienced in neighboring countries in northern Africa. It is still quite unclear what signal this will send to the continent.
- The AfDB announces pledges to support infrastructure projects in the emerging independent state of South Sudan
The Global Fund
- The Global Fund suspends a $ 13.91 million HIV/AIDS grant to Mali after evidence was discovered that Global Fund grant money had been misused
- IMF warns that higher food and fuel prices could complicate economic management in the Democratic Republic of Congo during an election year
- UNFCCC Executive Secretary says that Cancun agreements form a solid foundation for the upcoming
- UN opens a new political office in Gabon designed to support the efforts of Central African nations to consolidate peace and prevent conflict
- Plans to step up efforts to fight climate change is likely to miss a March deadline for starting work on a green fund to help developing nations
- WFP launches a $39.2m emergency operation to provide food assistance to more than one million people in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia
- IFC increases the economic participation of women by setting up phone service businesses in Madagascar, Malawi and Nigeria
- The World Bank launches its 10 year strategy for Africa whose focus will be on employment, resilience and governance
- Australia provides $6m in humanitarian support for emergency medical assistance and shelter in Libya
- Nicolas Sarkozy calls for an urgent reform of the UN Security Council to ensure full representation for Africa
- French Development Agency pledges to continue supporting social services in Tanzania
- The German solar company Energiebau creates the largest on-roof solar-power system in Kenya
- The German Development Minister presents a new proposal for the Tanzanian Government on how to deal with the construction of an envisaged road threatening to irreversibly destroy a unique ecosystem
- JICA will commit $50m in the review and up date of the National Water Resources Master Plan currently underway in order to improve access to potable water and sanitation in Nigeria
- An Indian sustainable energy company pledges to create 250,000 jobs over the next five years and produce clean, affordable energy that could power 100,000 homes in Ghana
- Italy pledges to support the Kenya National Assembly as it prepares to set up a new system of legislation demanded by the new constitution
- A massive climate awareness programme will be rolled out to educate South Africans on climate change
- The UK announces new programmes for both North and Sudan
- The UK Government will support 15,000 girls to pursue education in Nigeria, targeting 300 schools across the country
- The Government of Ghana secures a $100 million credit facility from the US General Capital Corporation to finance rural electrification, involving the extension of electricity supply to 500 deprived communities in the region
- The US and UK jointly assist Nigeria with $35 million to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the forth coming General Elections
- US private equity group, Carlyle plans to launch a $750m fund to invest in Africa
- U.S. Commits $12.6m for Cote d'Ivoire refugees
Why invest in women?
Why invest in women?
- Huffington Post (USA): Thugtatorship- the highest stage of African dictatorship
Alemayehu G. Mariam introduces Africa's leading 'thugtators' - those leaders who cling to power 'solely to accumulate personal wealth for the ruling class' and argues that the business of African governments is corruption.
- Daily Independent (Nigeria): Clock ticks for Africa’s sit tight dictators
Economic analyst reflects on the wind of change currently blowing across the African continent. He argues that it is only a matter of time before the hurricane blows away other African dictators.
- Financial Times(UK): Financial rules must do more for developing countries
Vicenzo la Via writes that to establish a more stable global financial system, the concerns of the developing world must be listened to and taken into account.
- All Africa: Empower women to realize the African dream
Oby Ezekwesili states the road to achieving the MDGs in Africa ‘can be built only on a gender-inclusive agenda.’ She identifies urgent action in five key areas that could help: a)women’s education and access to information; b) women’s rights; c)women’s access to agricultural inputs; d)female entrepreneurship; e) increase the political participation of women.
- Financial Times: (UK): Urgent steps to stop the climate door closing
Faith Birol and Nicholas Stern write that there are worrying signs that policymakers are becoming dangerously complacent about the scale of climate change challenges.
Gender equality must become a lived reality
- Michelle Bachelet , UN Women Executive Director
In the blogs...
- Poverty Matters Blog: International Women's day: A time for celebration mixed with realism
On the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Caroline Harper comments that women can celebrate a century of impressive achievements, but many inequities remain – ‘and we need political commitment and adequate funding to combat them.’
- Daily Nation Blog: Kenyans woke up to good news this morning- there are no more IDPs
According to the author, Kenyans are now living in perfect peace and any trials before the ICC or even local tribunal should be avoided as it will serve only to exhume the ghosts of the past.
- New FAO report makes strong business case for investing in women.
- A move by farmers in developing countries to ecological agriculture, away from chemical fertilisers and pesticides, could double food production within a decade.
- Armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education UNESCO’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report warns.
- UNICEF's State of the World’s Children 2011 advocates that investing in the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents can break the cycle of poverty.
- ITUC report says Women are facing higher unemployment, underemployment and reduced working hours as a second wave of the global economic crisis
- Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Water Challenge, an advocacy guide and action handbook developed by UN-Water aims to focus global attention on the importance, challenges and opportunities of water and sanitation management.
- A report by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) analyses the impact of the global financial crisis on the water sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) piece states that over 1.4 billion people- 20% of the world’s population do not have access to electricity, with 585 million based in sub-Saharan Africa
Central African Republic's main opposition coalition says it will boycott legislative polls scheduled for later this month in protest against the alleged fraudulent presidential elections that gave Francois Bozize, who has been in power since a 2003 coup, another term.
Amid allegations that a million people have been excluded from the voter poll and that preparations are not complete, presidential elections scheduled for 27 February in Benin, one of the more politically stable states in West Africa is again postponed for the second time to 13 March. President Boni Yayi, first elected in 2006, is facing 12 opposition candidates in his bid for a second term.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby has rejected the call of the country’s five major opposition candidates to delay an April 3 presidential election, saying it would be impossible to postpone the poll and that the candidates should work with the state's electoral commission to resolve any concerns. But, opposition candidates threaten to boycott the elections, the same way they boycotted the 2006 poll, if their request for new secured voters’ cards and registration lists is rejected.
|14-15 March||4th EAC Media Summit: Nairobi, Kenya|
|14-18 March||2011 Climate Investments Funds (CIF) Partnership Forum: Tunis, Tunisia|
|15-16 March||UNESCO Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education: Port Louis, Mauritius|
|16-17 March||4th Swiss-African Business Exchange: Geneva, Switzerland|
|20 March||Central African Republic Presidential Elections (2nd round)|
|20-22 March||The UN MDGs, the Global Compact and the Common Good: New York, U.S.A|
|22 March||World Water Day|
|22-24 March||Meeting of the High-Level Group Meeting on Education for All (UNESCO): Jomtien,Thailand|
|23-24 March||Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS: Abuja, Nigeria|
|23-24 March||4th COMESA Investment Forum: "Dubai to Africa, Unblocking the Markets of the Future:" Dubai, UAE|