THEME: GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT (GEWE): A BOTTOM UP APPROACH
Background and Introduction
The idea of a Women’s Decade was hatched in 1975 by the United Nations at the First World conference on Women, that was held in Mexico city. Since then, African women have been involved, and continue to participate in local and international consultations on women’s rights and gender equality. African women’s contributions have enriched discussions at the subsequent Women Conferences in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995).
At their Extra-Ordinary Meeting of Ministers of Gender and Women Affairs in Maseru, Lesotho in December 2008, the Africa Union (AU) Ministers for Gender and Women’s Affairs called on the AU to declare 2010 – 2020 as African Women’s Decade, and undertake wide consultations to ensure that the Decade is a success. The Ministers’ proposal was adopted by Assembly Dec. 487 (XIX) which declared 2010 – 2020 as African Women’s Decade.
The Commission then organized a Brainstorming Roundtable at the premises of the AU Permanent Mission to the UN on 01 March 2009 at the margins of the 53rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW); which provided an opportunity for the Ministers’ meeting in New York and for African Women Leaders to reflect on the Decision on the Women’s Decade.
The objective of the Brainstorming Roundtable was to notify Hon Ministers of the Assembly Decision and to brainstorm on the African Women’s Decade roll out as proposed by the Maseru meeting. They requested the Commission to hold a meeting of National Gender machineries to develop a Road Map by May 2009.
Subsequently the Commission convened a meeting of Gender Machineries from 6 to 8 May 2009, back to back with a meeting on reporting on the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), in which a draft Road Map for the rolling out of the Women’s Decade was developed.
The Commission finalized the draft Road Map developed in Banjul, for presentation to the Experts and Ministerial meeting of Ministers in charge of Gender and Women’s Affairs scheduled for 16 to 21 November 2009 back to back with the 8th African Regional Conference on Beijing +15.
The adoption of the AU Gender Policy by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government at their February 2009 Session, and its implementation offers an opportunity for the advancement and achievement of gender equality between men and women, as well as facilitating the inclusion of gender issues in the African agenda.