African countries challenged to enact policies for women’s empowerment

Written by  Faith Mwafulirwa

African countries have been challenged to put in place policies and programs which provide women and girls a conducive environment for their financial and social development.

Participants pose for group photo Participants pose for group photo

The call was made in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the official opening of the African Ministerial pre-consultative Conference for the 62nd meeting on the Commission of the status of women to be held in New York later this year.

Speaking when he opened the conference, Commissioner of Trade and Industry at the AU Albert Muchanga said that the challenges of rural women and girls in Africa are inter-connected, hence the need for Africa to speak with one voice discussing women empowerment.

Muchanga urged African countries to take advantage of the Commission on the Status of Women saying it is a platform for policy dialogue, review, and standards-setting on gender issues.

He observed that the platform plays a critical role in bringing together Governments, UN entities, women rights’ organizations and other stakeholders around inclusive, transformative policy decisions that will change the face of Africa in the years to come.

“I urge you to utilize this forum to review and redefine strategies specifically on gender equality and women empowerment issues that are of equal importance to Africa,” he appealed.

According to UN Women’s latest report “Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, women and girls face multiple and various forms of inequalities and discrimination as a result they lag behind on every gender and development indicator.

Regional Director of UN Women for West and Central Africa Louse Ofwona stressed that securing rural women’s rights to land and productive resources can help them in decision-making, gaining power and economic independence.

“The CSW62 also strengthens Agenda 2063 and the AU Constitutive Act, both of which commit Africa to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a pre-condition, without which the continent’s development goals and aspirations cannot and will not be realized,” she enthused.

Malawi’s representative to the conference the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender Dr. Esmie Kainja said they conducted consultations in all the districts of the country to hear from the rural women themselves on the challenges to be presented in New York.

“We are privileged as a country to be part of the three countries of the drafting team; what that means is that all the challenges women in Malawi face will be ably represented,” she explained.

Kainja pointed out that the meeting has united the African continent in order to achieve the African agenda 2063 of living no one behind but speaking with one voice as Africans.

This year’s Priority Theme for the conference in New York will be “Challenges and Opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, a reinforcement of the call to focus on rural women and girls made at the Fourth UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.


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