The 26th African Union (AU) Summit that is taking place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa will focus on strategies that would advance gender parity, women’s rights and inclusive development, a senior AU official said on Thursday
Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, told journalists that promotion of women’s rights is now at the heart of policy debate in many African countries.
“Realization of meaningful development in Africa as outlined in the Agenda 2063 will be possible if there is real commitment to gender parity. There is need for political commitment and resource allocation to achieve this goal,” Abdullahi remarked
Abdullahi said the theme of this year’s AU summit, “Africa Year of human rights with particular focus on the rights of women”, dovetails with the continent’s long-term agenda to achieve gender equality in all facets of human endeavor.
“It is envisaged the theme will build on the 2015 achievements to strengthen human rights in general and the rights of women in particular,” Abdullahi told reporters.
Many African countries have adopted progressive laws and policies to promote the rights of women and girls.
Abdullahi noted that incremental progress on gender parity has been realized in many Sub-Saharan African countries as evidenced by high school enrollment for girls alongside female representation in national leadership positions.
“It is important to emphasize that at this juncture, there are positive developments on gender equality and empowerment of women in the continent. Several AU member states have taken progressive measures to narrow gender gap with resounding success,” said Abdullahi, while calling on governments to abolish harmful practices like early marriages and female cut in order to realize gender equality.
The African 2015 Gender Index launched by the African Development Bank revealed that South Africa, Rwanda, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana are among countries that have made great strides in gender parity.
There are currently 37 countries in the world that have at least 30% of women presentation in Parliament, and 16 of these countries are in Africa, according to the commissioner.
Abdullahi stressed that greater political commitment, policy reforms and community engagement were crucial to eliminate bottlenecks that hinder women’s progress.
“Key stakeholders must combine efforts to secure equal rights for women and remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions and behavioral patterns across the continent,” she remarked.