Gender policies developed by most countries, but progress in implementation mixed. Improvements in social spheres and in political representation, but limited progress in economic participation.
Africa: African leaders have reaffirmed their commitments to gender equality, women’s rights and empowerment in both economic and political spheres following the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, (2003) and The Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA, 2004). This culminated in the adoption of the African Union (AU) Gender Policy in 2009 and the launch of African Women’s Decade in 2010, reaffirmed with the launch of the Fund for African Women in 2011. African governments have also made commitments through a number of international agreements. Leaders have committed to promote maternal, newborn, and child health and development in Africa by 2015, notably through the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (see Topic 8). A series of commitments emphasising gender concerns in social and economic spheres have also been made through AU and regional level sectoral declarations, including on education, health, youth employment, food security and migration (see also Agriculture, Education, Health and Food Security).
Development partners: Development partners have committed to the principles of gender equality through a series of international agreements, such as The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). MDG3 calls for gender equality and empowerment of women with a target of eliminating gender disparity in education (see Education). Key commitments on development assistance and aid effectiveness refer to the objectives of gender equality. Development partners have also committed support to gender equality through a series of sectoral initiatives, as well as commitments to assist developing countries manage the impact of the 2009 financial crisis pledged to accelerate action on gender equality. The G-20 have highlighted gender gaps in relation to skills in their 2010 multi-year action plan on development, and in 2011 placed special emphasis on the need for gender sensitive agricultural plans and policies (see Infrastructure). The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan recognised the need to accelerate efforts to achieve gender parity and empowerment through development programs grounded in country priorities.
What has been done to deliver on these commitments?
Africa: Progress in entrenching norms and standards for promoting and protecting the rights of women is mixed. All but three African countries have ratified the CEDAW and 32 countries have ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Many countries have integrated non-discriminatory clauses into their respective constitutions and other legislative instruments and have undertaken reforms in marriage, family and property relations (including inheritance). Strategic responses to violence against women have been strengthened by the UN Secretary General’s Africa Unite Campaign to end Violence against Women and Girls and other related initiatives. Eighteen of the 28 African countries practising female genital mutilation have outlawed it, although law enforcement remains weaker. Nine countries have established social protection programmes benefiting women.
Development partners: In 2009-2010 OECD–DAC members committed an annual average of US$24.9 billion in 2009-10 globally in bilateral support for gender equality, much of it in the health, education and governance sectors. Lower priority was given to gender equality in economic and productive sectors. African countries constituted the top 10 partners of the majority of DAC members providing direct support in this area. Multilateral development banks and International Finance Institutions (IFIs) have also strengthened their support, such as through the African Development Bank’s Gender Plan of Action (GPOA) and the World Bank’s three year road map for gender mainstreaming (2011–2013), which will build on previous lessons learned.
What results have been achieved?Progress towards gender parity has been recorded in the social sectors. However African women face persistent and multiple equality challenges as changes in social norms or values have not kept pace with statutory law.
What are the future priority actions?