AU calls for ‘6th pillar’ on gender equality

Ministers of gender and women’s affairs from African Union Member States are calling for a standalone goal on issues on gender in the next development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The ministers have recommended that the Post 2015 Development Agenda, yet to be agreed upon by the United Nations (UN), should include a sixth pillar on “Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and Women’s Rights”.

In a side event at the ongoing UN Conference on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, the ministers also recommended that gender should be mainstreamed across all five pillars in the post-2015 development agenda.

According to the ministers, a review of the MDGs indicates that while progress has been made, “Africa may not achieve all the eight MDGs by 2015”.

The ministers, who presented a common position after a meeting in Ethiopia in February, 2014, said the “MDGs failed to take cognisance of the impact of violence against women and children in development”.

Also, they said the MDG3 neither included adequate gender analysis nor budgeting.

Furthermore, they said the MDG failed to address inequalities and disparities within and between countries and between men and women, as well as address underlying systemic issues such as discrimination and lack of access and control over resources.

According to them, although they acknowledge the inclusion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Africa Common Position, it was critical to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.

They therefore called on the African Union High Level Committee on the Post-2015 Development Agenda to include priority areas such as women and girls having access, control and ownership of resources, including land, information, technology, safe water, energy and finance under the proposed sixth pillar.

They also suggested other areas such as elimination and prevention of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and other harmful cultural practices; universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights; decent work and living wage for women in both informal and formal sectors and as well recognise, redistribute and remunerate unpaid care work.

Also they are calling for economic empowerment of rural women, especially adequate financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment and collection, analysis and use of sex, age and gender disaggregated data for informed planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, among others.

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