Gender Links (Johannesburg)

9 December 2012

Africa - Post 2015 - What Women Want!

analysis

Despite the great strides made in international development in the past years, it is now clear that many countries will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

In line with this year's theme for International Human Rights Day, "inclusion and the right to participate in public life", it is imperative that African women articulate what the Post-2015 Development Framework should contain.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development provides a roadmap to MDG 3 - gender equality - through 28 targets to be achieved by 2015. As the campaign for a post 2015 agenda gains momentum, the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance is also stepping up momentum for 2015 itself. The Alliance slogan has evolved over the last year from "2015, Yes we can!" to "2015: Yes we must!"

Since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000, the MDGs have taken centre stage in the development arena. Progress in different countries is measured against the eight world targets to reduce poverty and hunger; disease; child mortality; maternal mortality; HIV and AIDS; malaria and other diseases while promoting gender equality, education and sustainable development.

In 2003, Gender Links produced a book called "Finding gender in the MDGs" to stimulate discussion on what the MDGs mean for African women. The organisation expressed concern that the only targets and indicators on gender in the MDG's concern education, women's political participation and maternal mortality. Gender concerns in Southern Africa and other parts of the world encompass much more than health and education issues. They include access to employment, economic and sexual and reproductive rights.

A progressive Post-2015 Development Framework must therefore expand and enhance the MDGs. Gender should not be treated in isolation, but be mainstreamed in the framework. Fundamentally there is need to progress from a basic needs approach to a rights-based approach.

African women have started to mobilise to ensure that issues that affect them are integrated in the Framework. From 21 to 22 October 2012, representatives of regional women's organisations, networks and grassroots women farmers participated in an Africa Women's Regional Civil Society Consultation on the Post- 2015 Development Framework held in Monrovia, Liberia. The meeting agreed, "...Little focus has been placed on the qualitative aspects concerning gender equality and women's rights in the current MDGs." In addition, acute development issues such as climate change and peace and security were omitted in the current framework.

Representatives of African women have unanimously agreed that, "a post 2015 development framework must be grounded in Human and Women's Rights principles that go beyond economic growth, and must take into account the social and political dynamics that account for both vertical and horizontal structural inequalities."

The recommendations that African women have submitted include accessible universal primary education and strengthening of post primary education; women's health and eradicating violence against women; guarantee women's and girl's property rights; accelerate women's economic empowerment; and governance and peace and security.

Regarding universal primary education, African women want more investment in post-primary education that is targeted at girls. This includes the development of gender-sensitive textbooks, allowing adolescent mothers to go back to school, build latrines that are girl-friendly, give out scholarships for tertiary education and develop a curriculum that is strong in mathematics and science that projects gender equality concepts. In addition, women's organisations have recommended that governments be encouraged to fight harmful traditional practices that inhibit girls from attending school and mitigate hidden costs to universal education such as menstruation.

While there are many efforts to curb GBV, the proposal is that interventions need to be costed to ensure effective implementation of laws and building of shelters to accommodate abused women.

African women demand that the Framework emphasise the reform of national laws that relate to land and natural resources. Governments must be encouraged to empower women to claim their land rights by "increasing the dissemination and accessibility of information" regarding land laws. Governments need to provide women with legal services where they have to contest access to land and natural resources.

Women must have access to loans so that they can start small businesses. Local government should be encouraged to register informal businesses that many women engage in as well as recognise women as key actors in trade. African women have recommended that gender responsive budgeting be a priority.

Women should be part of conflict resolution talks as well as reconstruction. In addition, there needs to be a critical mass of women in public and private sector decision-making.

Above all, governments must be made to put their money where their mouth is. In the words of Clair Melamed, Head of Growth and Equity at the Overseas Development Institute, a good Post-2015 development agenda must have "few issues, some numbers, and with obligations and commitments for all countries."

Saeanna Chingamuka is the Gender and Media Diversity Centre Manager and Editor at Gender Links. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service series for the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It marks the official launch of the Post-2015 Development Framework campaign by Gender Links.

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