PAP President Charumbira calls for equal access to education and an equal chance to succeed for women and girls - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, March 9, 2023

PAP President Charumbira calls for equal access to education and an equal chance to succeed for women and girls

President of the Pan-African Parliament, H. E. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira  has reminded African parliamentarians that to deny any woman or girl child any rights on the basis of their gender, is to subvert the inalienable human rights that are accorded to all of us by virtue of simply being human.

H. E Chief Charumbira made the remark on the occasion of the celebration of International Women’s Day in Midrand, South Africa which was held under the theme: “For an Inclusive Digital World: Innovation and Technologies for Gender Equality,”

The International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated annually across the globe on the 8th of March as a focal point in the women's rights movement, bringing attention to the progress made on gender equality in all its manifestations, including, reproductive rights, gender-based violence, abuse against women and economic rights, among others.

The IWD was celebrated on the sidelines of the March Committee Sitting of the Sixth parliament of the Pan-African Parliament currently taking place at the seat of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AFCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area”.

“While this is a day to celebrate achievements and progress, it is also a day for all of us to take stock of what must still be done to achieve equal rights and equal opportunities for women.”

“This day should be a sobering reminder to all of us that the women’s struggle is everyone’s struggle. In fact, gender issues should permeate the programmes of every Committee at the PAP without duplication.”

“For instance, the Committee Sittings are being held under the African Union Theme for 2023, “The Year of AFCFTA: Acceleration of AFCFTA Implementation.” The Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that AU Member States ratify the AFCFTA and deliberately tailor-make their programs to empower women to actively participate in trade on a larger scale and enact gender-responsive policies biased towards improving women inclusion in international trade and access to trade information, services, finance, ICT and market opportunities. The inclusion of women in the mainstream economy will have a huge impact on addressing traditional practices that relegated women to the domestic space and limited their contribution.”

H. E. Chief Charumbira noted that the Pan African Parliament like any other Parliament is obligated to protect, promote and uphold gender equality.

“The Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Economic Community relating to the Pan African Parliament (Sirte, 2001) enjoins the Pan African Parliament to “Enhance the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.” This mandate, in and of itself, is inherently inclusive and obliges the PAP to ensure that, regardless of gender, all African people are fully involved through their elected representatives in decision making processes on issues that affect them on the continent.  The Pan African Parliament stands as much for the voice of men and boys as it does for the voice of women and girls and should thus actively promote gender equality in all spheres including in the digital world. PAP Parliamentarians must, therefore, advocate for internet access as a basic right, the integration of ICT into education curriculums and zero tolerance towards discrimination against the girl child in pursuing educational programs in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This will go a long way towards bridging the gap between men and women in the control or access to key levers of the economy.”

He also noted that PAP has leveraged on Rule 85 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, to establish the Women’s Caucus to play a complementary oversight role on women’s rights and gender issues. “Our clarion call is for the Bureaus of the Committee and the Caucus to engage and find ways of working together to advance the women’s causes. The fight for gender equality requires the collective contribution of every woman working in unison to overcome the strong forces that perpetrate gender inequality he said.

Chief Charumbira also appreciated the important role played by women in guaranteeing food security and nutrition on the continent noting that in most African economies, women account for 90% of unpaid domestic labour which is less valued in the present-day capitalist society.

“The burden of subsistence farming in the rural areas is borne by women yet they do not own the land on which they strive and thrive. Bearing this in mind, as the PAP we must play a definitive role in pushing for the empowerment of women to own the means of production and participate on equal footing with their male counterparts in enhancing food self-sufficiency on the continent.”

Concluding, Chief Charumbira disclosed that PAP is in the process of finalizing the development of the Model Law on Gender Parity which is hoped to be used as a benchmark by Member States in improving national legislation to ensure that it promotes, protects and upholds gender equality.


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