WOMEN, GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT BUREAU OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION TO THE AFRICAN UNION AGENDA 2063 CONSULTATION MEETING WITH
THE AFRICAN WOMEN
11-13 DECEMBER 2013
Representative of the Government of the Republic of Cameroon
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, it is both an honor and privilege to me to welcome all of you to this consultation meeting with the African Women and also men engaged to mainstream gender and women’s empowerment AU Agenda 2063
As many of you recall, at their Assembly held in May this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the Heads of State and Government, in their 50th Celebration Solemn Declaration, while acknowledging past successes and challenges, rededicated themselves to the continent’s development and technological transformation, and pledged to advance this through eight key areas, which I will have q chance to highlight during presentation ,
This exercise is being led by the Chairperson of the AUC Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma working closely with the NEPAD Agency and supported by the UNECA and the African Development Bank
As we are all know, Africa has had such long term plans before, such as the Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) and Road Map among others. However, one of the weaknesses of the past plans was the lack of participation and involvement of the local African populace, hence lack of ownership. We still believe, however, that Africa has progressed over the last two decades and that there is need to build on the previous plans in an incremental manner. We also believe that now is the opportune time for Africa to come up with such a plan because of the change in the global context, the presence of relatively strong Regional Economic Communities (RECs) capable of implementing and delivering on such an Agenda, as well as new opportunities the continent can capitalize upon. One such big opportunity is the opportunity to build African Women’s Potential who constitutes 52% of our Population by ensuring that Agenda 2063 puts Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment at the centre. Africa is more united today and capable of rallying support over a common agenda. Consequently, there is recognition of the need for an overarching continental plan from which various stakeholders; women can play a vital role to inspire the general public and transform African economies if they are provided equal opportunities.
Agenda 2063 is also being developed at a time when Africa is celebrating 50 years of the establishment of the OAU/AU. It does so with a commitment to learning from the past and building upon it with renewed vigor and vitality. Agenda 2063 will also rekindle the spirit of Pan Africanism that existed during the struggle for decolonization; this time to free Africa from the scourges of poverty and under development and make Africa a key global player in science and technology, economy and politics.
Indeed, Agenda 2063 is being developed to translate into reality the vision of our Heads of State and Government of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” As such, Agenda 2063 is a people driven and bottom-up process. In developing it, it is thus vitally important that we consult as widely as possible. We already had consultation meetings in Nairobi, Kenya with representatives of the private sector and with researchers, academicians and Think Tanks in early September. We also consulted with development planning experts, development specialists and civil society organizations late September/early October in Dakar, Senegal. In early October, we had consultations with the African Diaspora in New York; then in Gaborone, Botswana with representatives of RECs and AU Organs, followed by consultation with the youth of Africa in Tunis in early November.
We are now engaging with you over the next few days to solicit your inputs, which will be critical in defining the Africa We Want by 2063.
It is true that a Consultation with African Women’s Stakeholders was held in May 2013 in Addis Ababa at the margins of the AU 50th Anniversary Celebration which deliberated on the Agenda 2063 in geneal and came up with the Addis Ababa Declaration. This Declaration, alongside the Abidjan Declaration on Post 2015 on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in the context of Agenda Post 2015 and the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) Road Map will guide our technical work so that we can translate these political commitments into action. Over the course of the next few months we will be reaching out to large segments of stakeholders through the same process. These consultations are all the more important because Africa’s development trajectory has often relied on narratives and paradigms developed by others and it is long overdue for Africans to reclaim their own narrative.
Since the African Union came into being, the focus of the organization has been on development, development that is all encompassing; and that is owned by all people of the African society of which African Women should be considered as significant and highly appreciated as key actors and stakeholder . You are, as it were, at the frontline of the interface with the general public.
Our gathering here, therefore, is for us to plan together the future we want. In this regard, we want to hear from you the type Africa you want by 2063 in terms of political and socioeconomic development; human welfare, governance, peace and security, Africa’s place in the world and your role and place in it. We believe that the African Women are best positioned to reflect upon Africa’s past, draw appropriate lessons, as well as examine the present and the future in order to propose measures to address past weaknesses and move forward on the development path that our people need. We would want you to provide concrete recommendations on what policies and strategies should be implemented to have a better and transformed and highly competitive Africa in 2063 with meaningful and productive engagement with its relevant stakeholders.
In addition to engaging with you and soliciting your inputs into the Africa We Want by 2063, we want to use the opportunity of the workshop to deliberate and agree on Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment (GEWE) strategy for Agenda 2063; and define the role of the African Women and all men, champions of Gender mainstreaming at all stages of the Agenda 2063 formulation and implementation process.
As I indicated earlier, Agenda 2063 is a people driven and bottom up process built on pan-Africanism, African values, and Africa’s determination to exercise full control over its resources and shape its destiny. As such it offers the Women unique privilege and unprecedented opportunity to be a key player and stand ready to live up to expectation. At the same time, it bestows on all gender machineries a huge responsibility to continue to work towards an a continent respectful of promotion and protection of women’s Rights and capability built on:
Vast and deep knowledge about Agenda 2063: where Agenda 2063 is starting from; , where it is heading to; and how it intends to reach its goals;
Effective and accountable GEWE : i, e., ensuring that all AU policies on women’s rights and gender equality in Africa adopted by heads of States are fully ratified , domesticated and implemented at national, regional and continental levels is fully integrated both in spirit and substance to Agenda 2063 formulation, implementation and evaluation process;
Values and ethics. I have no intention of emphasizing this point to you, as you are already the converted. Nevertheless, I would like to stress that the role of African women in Africa development needs to be recognized as women are vectors of peace, stability, food security and of growth and sustainable development
Research, studies and evaluation. Agenda 2063 calls upon all women and whatever your position at your country to facilitate girls’ education and women’s literacy and calls upon all Male Gender champions to engage themselves in fighting all forms of violence against women and also document all forms of gender-based –violence, best practices of GEWE,
Responding to diverse needs. Yes, we as Africans have so many things in common. These common values are our biggest assets. But we have differences too; which are as important as our common values. Africa’s wealth is not only our common values, but also our differences. Africa is a diverse continent; and managing this diversity effectively to the betterment of all people is a task that AU has been working on. Women are at the forefront of this endeavor.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that Africa is endowed with huge natural resources such as minerals, oil and other resources which are being exported in raw form and thus generating little benefit to the continent and hence resulting in jobless growth. The continent is home to 12% of the world’s oil reserves, 50% of its gold and 90% of chromium and platinum group metals, 20% of the world’s cooper, 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable lands and has significant deposits of bauxite and other raw materials.
The continent has a population of 1 billion people and by 2050 its share of global population will reach 23 per cent which will match China or India. Moreover, its population will be growing by 1 percent annually, well above the rate of other global regions; 60 percent of the population is under 25 years of age thereby creating a huge labor potential if well skilled; and 34 percent of the continent is middle class providing a large consumer market of at least 300 million people.This dramatic growth will considerably increase Africa’s importance in the world as a place of opportunities and growth pole.
On the political front, a large measure of stability has been restored in many conflict afflicted parts of the continent although challenges remain. Free, fair and transparent democratic elections are increasingly the norm with several examples of peaceful handover of power. In 2011, 18 countries in Africa were considered electoral democracies as compared to only four in 1991.
Finally let me mention that the outcomes of this meeting will be used to enhance a draft Framework Paper which will be presented to the Assembly of Heads of State of the Union in January 2014. A final Agenda 2063 Plan will be completed and submitted to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in June, 2014.
Let me emphasize that despite this roadmap we count on you to involve other colleagues, Women’s Networks in your countries with a view to making further contributions to the agenda. We believe that you have ways of reaching out to others who may not be present here. The Commission is ready to welcome further inputs at any time.
In addition, we launched a website recently where the populace can make inputs on the type of Africa they want in 2063. We also urge you to continue engaging with us and to make full use of the website and mobilize others. This consultation should not be regarded as the end, but the first foot step in a long journey and the beginning of a long process in which all of us have an obligation to constructively engage to shape the destiny of our continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to end by thanking all of you once more for finding time to answer this call. At the same time, we apologize for any inconvenience you may have encountered in getting to this meeting.
Thank You and I wish you success in your deliberations.