Pan-African Parliament's Women Caucus to hold virtual briefing in partnership with UNFPA - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Pan-African Parliament's Women Caucus to hold virtual briefing in partnership with UNFPA


The Women Caucus of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will on September 10, hold a virtual briefing on Parliamentary support to gender-responsive COVID-19 national plans.

This was contained in a Media Advisory released on Monday by PAP’s Media Officer, Mr. Jeffrey Onganga.

The briefing is intended to support and enhance the Pan-African Parliament’s oversight role of national parliaments in passing gender-responsive national COVID-19 response plans.

It will also support Pan-African parliamentarians in holding national governments accountable in the allocation of resources available for response to gender-based violence and harmful practices exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ensure that national budget re-allocations for COVID-19 do not take away funds previously allocated to sexual and reproductive health services, maternal, child and adolescent health.

Additionally, it will ensure women’s equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision making in national parliaments. 

The African Union-led Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 aims at coordinating efforts of member states, African Union agencies, World Health Organization, and other partners to ensure synergy and minimize duplication.

“It also aims to promote evidence-based public health practice for surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19. Africa CDCs under the ambit of the AU is leading the surveillance, emergency preparedness and response to COVID-19 including direct emergency response and the scientific aspects of a continental pandemic response.

“To complement the continental strategy, the African Union Commission and partners developed a framework document to enhance awareness about the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE), and to provide guidelines to member states on gender-responsive interventions to COVID-19 on the continent.

“At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, Pan-African parliamentarians joined continental leaders in the tireless fight against the devastating effects of the pandemic. The Pan-African Parliament committed to putting in place all necessary means to ensure implementation of continental leadership initiatives at national level, and called on all Pan-African Parliamentarians to make necessary efforts in their states to allow the continent to overcome current challenges brought on by the pandemic and pursue the path of development of which Africans can take full ownership.

“Parliamentarians have a critical role to play in implementing international, regional and national laws and policies that aim to promote and protect the rights of women and create a safe and enabling environment for women and girls at home. Female parliamentarians across Africa particularly have an enormous responsibility to champion awareness campaigns, support women groups, support and create bills protecting women from all forms of violence as well as the sensitization of local communities on the value of empowering women and girls].

“In particular, the Women Caucus of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), with the primary responsibility of fulfilling an oversight role regarding women’s rights and gender issues on the African continent, calls upon Member states of the African Union to adequately respond to the increase in violence against women specifically during pandemics such as the COVID-19. The Women Caucus of the PAP calls upon national parliaments to intensify work at the national level to end all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls and denounce violence against women and girls in all forms; to create public awareness campaigns on violence against women and girls especially during a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic; and to support and work with relevant Civil Society Organizations at the national, local and grassroot levels on projects to eliminate domestic violence against women and girls.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has demonstrated that evidence from prior outbreaks shows that this crisis could exact a massive toll on women and girls. Women are disproportionally represented in the health and social services sectors, increasing their risk of exposure to the disease. Stress, limited mobility, and livelihood disruptions also increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. And if health systems redirect resources away from sexual and reproductive health services, women’s access to family planning, antenatal care and other critical services could suffer.

UNFPA is on the ground, distributing personal protective equipment for health workers and supporting health systems where needed. UNFPA is also supporting efforts to learn more about the virus and its impact to better serve the most vulnerable.

“Additionally, UNFPA developed a Global Response Plan that is fully aligned to and part of the UN Secretary- General’s three-step plan to respond to the devastating socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. UNFPA’s plan complements the WHO COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. At the global and regional levels, UNFPA is part of the coordinated UN response under the Inter- Agency Standing Committee (IASC) COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

“Furthermore, UNFPA is at the forefront of cutting-edge research on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 particularly in relation to the three transformative results: zero unmet need for family planning; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is one of the nine organs of the African Union provided for in Article 5 of the Constitutive Act of the AU, adopted on 11 July 2000 in Lomé, Togo. The Pan-African Parliament represents all the peoples of Africa. It is at present composed of 229 Members of Parliament representing 52 African countries. Its purpose, as set out in article 17 of the AU Constitutive Act, is “to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent”.

The mission of the Pan-African Parliament is to provide a common platform for African peoples to represent, and to act as a voice of the people of Africa, presenting their opinions, their concerns and aspirations, and thus effectively hold the governing institutions of the AU accountable in the implementation of policies and programmes as well as in the allocation and use of public resources for promoting just, equitable and sustainable development for all the peoples of Africa.


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