South Africa: AU Champions Women Empowerment in 2020

10 February 2020

South Africa's agenda during its African Union (AU) chairship will focus on women's financial and economic inclusion, gender-based violence and accountability to global gender commitments.

AU Chair President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined the country's focus on women at the High-Level Breakfast Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meeting took place on Saturday ahead of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where President Ramaphosa assumed chairship.

As 2020 marks the final year of the commitment made in Agenda 2063 of ensuring 50% of women's representation in decision-making, President Ramaphosa called on Heads of State to make catalytic change at national level that will have multiplier effects on the continent.

"For example, to attain women's financial inclusion and economic empowerment, we must look beyond micro-finance solutions and invest in solutions that target the full range of constraints that women face in growing their businesses," the President said.

He further called on member States to actively participate in the Beijing + 25 World Conference on Women celebrations, such as the Gender Equality Forums, as well as global and regional sessions taking place. South Africa will host a session in July 2020.

"We propose a 5-point Action Plan that will be accompanied by a detailed programme.

"We will invite member States to declare the years 2020 - 2030 as the Decade of African Women's Financial and Economic Inclusion - with goals and targets," said the President.

In addition, President Ramaphosa says the Union will also ask all member States to commit to preferential public procurement legislation requiring 30% of all government procurement go to women owned businesses, and adopt an annual monitoring framework for the same.

"We will ask Heads of States commit to lead from the front, and redouble efforts to end gender-based violence," he said.

Member States, through the AU, will be asked to endorse holding an Africa conference on violence and sexual harassment, leading to an AU convention on violence against women.

"We will ask the member States to repeal all discriminatory laws by December 2026. We will advocate for All AU Member States to commit to ratify the ILO Convention on Sexual Harassment by December 2020.

"We will encourage all AU Member States to commit to gender parity in national cabinets and gender equal parliaments by 2030," said the President.

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