The theme of this year’s Pan-African Women’s Day commemoration, ‘Towards the African Women’s Decade: Realising Women’s Human Capital through accelerated social and economic development, addressing the scourge of violence, food insecurity and good nutrition on the African continent,’ could not have come at a more appropriate time.
Women in Africa face numerous socio-economic challenges and are subject to socio-cultural norms that affect their ability to live their full potential.
However, what is heartening is that African women have always been, and still continue to remain resilient, despite the daily hurdles they face.
Unfortunately, we cannot continue our fight for gender equality at the same pace as before. We need to redouble our efforts.
Adolescent girls and young women need urgent focus in Africa.
We are losing ground on the progress made, partly as a result of Covid-19.
In our continent women carry 63% of all new infections.
Adolescent girls and young women are in danger because of sexual abuse, child marriage, unwanted pregnancies and transactional risky sex.
We recognise that guided by the aspirations of the African people embodied in Agenda 2063 and in pursuit of the goals and targets defined in the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Africa’s development blueprint, Africa has made bold steps in various domains, including economic development and governance.
The 2nd Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 shows that the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament, regional and local bodies increased from 21% and met the target of 28%.
While notable gains such as these have been made, however, there is a lot more that still needs to be done, to ensure that no woman in Africa is left behind.
As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation, Africa’s first collective women’s organisation, let us not forget where we are coming from in the fight for equality of women all across the continent.
Our Agenda 2063 development framework, which is now going into its Second Ten Year Implementation Plan, needs to be people-centred, inclusive of women and the marginalised.
This is one of the reasons why the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission launched the Women and Youth Financial and Economic Inclusion (WYFEI 2030) initiative with the support of AUDA-NEPAD to ensure its effective and successful implementation.
As we celebrate African women today, I would like to remind you that we must, collectively, aspire for ‘An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential offered by the African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.’
We need to break boundaries, choose to challenge and disrupt the injustices and inspire the young girls.
There is no progress and future for our children with the marginalisation of half of the population. Empowerment of women is the essence of decent and dignified life.
Do not be a by-stander, act now, Resist and Fight for the rights of women, adolescent girls and young women.
Nardos Bekele-Thomas is the CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, a development agency of the African Union