Over 400 hundred delegates from across the continent and beyond met at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 8th African Gender Pre-Summit in an effort to bring together and amplify the voices of key stakeholders in gender equality and women’s empowerment to inform and influence decisions of the AU 26th Summit.
The summit reiterated that African women and girls still face various challenges despite an overplus of frameworks that guarantee gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The 2016 Gender Pre-Summit was jointly organised by the AUC Directorate of Women Gender and Development; the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) and AU partners under the AUC chairperson Dr Dlamini-Zuma.
Following on from 2015 which was declared the Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063, the 2016 theme, African Year of Human Rights, with Particular focus on the Rights of Women, marks a second consecutive year that gender equality and women’s empowerment dominate highest priority on the continental agenda.
Key messages that came out of the Gender Pre-Summit, including by Dlamini- Zuma, are that Africa’s women and girls “… should be the change we want to see . . . Women should be change agents . . . to transform, not to con- form …”
“It is time for a radical transformative campaign for change and implementation of all the legal frameworks already in place to enhance women’s empowerment particularly under Agenda 2063,”she reiterated.
The annual pre-summit meetings are in line with the decision of the Ministerial Consultation with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) held on June 24 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, that the AU Commission should facilitate inclusive consultative processes for stakeholders within the gender equality and women’s empowerment movement.
On peace and security, Bineta Diop, AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, noted that year 2016 offered another opportunity for the African women to demand for their rights to be recognised as human rights as espoused in Agenda 2063.
Also at the closing of the pre-summit on January 20, 2016, two female top African scientists: Prof. Merzouk Hafida from Algeria representing the North region and Prof. Yalemtsehay Mekonnen from Ethiopia were awarded prices for their scientific achievements and valuable discoveries and findings that has contributed to the development agenda of the Continent.
Addressing the laureates on behalf of H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Commissioner Ikounga congratulated the two female scientists and expressed the wish for more women to be involved in the area of science.
Two children (a boy and a girl) presented a poem at the closing ceremony, calling on the women leaders and decision-makers to honour their promise as they endorse the final communiqué to pave the way for the younger generation to find a more prosperous and peaceful Africa, free of wars, hunger, disease, poverty and conflicts.