Pan-African Parliament hosts conference on Women’s Rights - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, November 6, 2022

Pan-African Parliament hosts conference on Women’s Rights

The Thirteenth Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Conference on Women’s Rights, held under the theme: “Women empowerment and inclusion in governance,” at the seat of the PAP in Midrand, South Africa has ended.

The two-day event was held on the sidelines of the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the PAP ran from 3 to 4 November 2022 and afforded women from across the continent the opportunity to discuss issues affecting women and focused on women inclusion in governance.

Panelists discussed such issues as women in decision-making positions and the role of women legislators in addressing the existing gaps between policy framework on women’s rights and actual realities of African women.

In her welcome remarks, the Chairperson of the Pan-African Parliament Women’s Caucus, Hon. Amina Tidjani Yaya, stressed the importance of the platform in bringing the plight of African women to the front burner.

She highlighted how the Women’s Conference has over the past thirteen (13) years, provided the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) with the opportunity to monitor and assess the challenges faced by women and girls in Africa, discuss the economic development of women in Africa, review the progress made by the African Union (AU) and the PAP on gender mainstreaming, to deliberate on the planning, implementation and monitoring of African Union and PAP programs, policies and activities that are gender-focused and in relation to women African.

“The Women’s Caucus is privileged to be hosting this event at the PAP plenary as it gives us a platform to follow up on and assess difficulties women are faced in Africa. The African Union (AU) has adopted many progressive legal instruments to protect women and their autonomy. The PAP is providing a platform for participants from different countries and organizations to discuss the implementation of AU Legal Instruments on gender relating to women empowerment and governance,” said Hon Amina Tidjani Yaya.

“Remember that the Women’s Caucus has a mandate to actively follow up issues focused on gender-based violence, inclusion of women in decision-making roles, governance and the promotion of women’s rights.”

 “We appreciate the role that PAP is playing with the Women’s Caucus in providing women with the opportunity to monitor and address issues affecting women and youth across the African continent.”

Hon Amina also stressed that the forum provided an opportunity to bring together parliamentarians from African Union (AU) member states, PAP members, representatives of UA bodies, the United Nations and its agencies, civil service, development institutions representatives and partners development.

In her opening remarks, the Third Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, Hon. Lucia Mendes Dos Passos, paid tribute to women Parliamentarians across the continent who are at the forefront of promoting women issues. She congratulated female Parliamentarians for their contributions in strengthening democratic and governance processes when assigned key responsibilities.

Hon. Dos Passos appreciated female Parliamentarians at the helm of leadership structures at the Pan-African Parliament, including regional caucuses and permanent committees for their various roles in bringing the Parliament back to full functionality.

In his goodwill message, the President of the Pan-African Parliament H. E. Hon. Foortune Charumbira who attended the event to show solidarity with the women, congratulated all women coming from outside South Africa for showing their support and making the Conference a huge success.

“This is the Thirteenth Conference and the mission and primary objective of the Pan-African Parliament is to provide a platform that is important for African women to come together and discuss issues affecting conti women.” not of the world" said H. E. Chief Charumbira.

He added that “If you want to reduce corruption and strengthen governance, appoint more women in leadership positions.”

H. E. Chief Charumbira stated that Women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to strengthening governance and achieving sustainable development, peace and security. He urged the participants to critically analyze and unpack the concepts of “empowerment” and “inclusion” to move away from rhetoric and ensure concrete implementation of commitments towards women empowerment.

Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Regional Office for East Africa and Southern Africa (ESARO), Ms Lydia Zigomo, in her speech, read for her, expressed her gratitude for being invited to the conference and acknowledged the key role that the PAP and the women caucus play as a legislative body on the African continent.

Ms. Zigomo disclosed that UNFPA is working on the centralization of population dynamics for sustainable development and inclusive socio-economic development.

“We greatly value the partnership we have with members of Parliament across the continent. We recognize that many of the results we have achieved for women and young people are as a result of supervision, counselor, and consultation in spaces like today's one. Today is scheduled to discuss the rights of the women".

She also stressed the importance of recognizing the contribution of women to the continent's gross domestic product.

“We also know that your conversations will be much more centered around poverty reduction, empowerment, women’s work and health education.”

Representing the Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for East Africa and South Africa (ESARO), Mr. Maxime Houinato, and Ms. Maureen Shonge reiterated the full support of the United Nations entity at the conference, as it also offers programs, policies and standards for the defense of women's rights and ensures that every woman and girl can reach their potential.

In her presentation, the Head of Women & Gender Policy and Development -Women, Gender and Youth Directorate at African Union Commission, Dr. Tapiwa Uchizi Nyasulu RWEYEMAMU highlighted the international and continental commitments pledged by African Union Member States to address gender inequality and implement women's empowerment.

She also spoke on the expected role of women legislators in addressing the existing gaps between policy framework on Women’s Rights and African Women Rights and the actual realities of African women.

Dr. Tapiwa Uchizi RWEYEMAMU advocated for Women ownership of the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of theMoputo Protocol and the role of Women parliamentarians in lobbying for Universal Ratification, Domestication and implementation of the Moputo Protocol on Women’s Rights in Afica.

She reported the progress made to ensure that the remaining 12 Member States (43 out of 55 ratified) ratify the Maputo Protocol and that there is  need for Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other organizations to report on progress made and challenges experienced in implementing continental frameworks and decisions.

The second of the event witnessed the presence of Rt. Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa who was jointly received by the President of the Pan-African Parliament, H.E. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, the Third Vice President, Hon. Lucia Mendes Dos Passos and Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus, Hon Amina Tidjani Yaya.

Ms. Sandzisike Madonsela, Policy Officer for Women, Gender and Youth Directorate at the African Union Commission (AUC) presented a paper on "Fighting poverty and promoting economic and financial empowerment.” She underscored the importance of painting a true picture of the situation in order to understand where interventions are needed.

She said that the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) reported that millions of Africans fall into extreme poverty which points to the urgency of pulling out the majority of those living under the poverty line which are sisters, daughters and basically our African peers.

Speaking on the interventions by the African Union, she said that one of them is the African Women's decade for financial and economic inclusion, which was declared by Head of State and Government during the 33rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union in 2020.

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