Category Archives: Southern African Development Community

We Can’t Have a Post-2015 Agenda Without SRHR

In 2000, the creators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) completely overlooked sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), a mistake that, if repeated, would cripple the dreams of millions of young girls and women for years and generations to come.


Access to SRHR enables individuals to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so. To some, these rights may be considered an everyday reality. However, that is not the case for millions of young people in the world – particularly girls and women.


On Tuesday night, I had the fantastic opportunity to listen to some of the foremost global leaders speak on behalf of ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda. The benefits of ensuring SRHR are society wide and inevitably translate into improved education, economic growth, health, gender equality, and even environment.




“At my high school, you would be expelled if found with a condom.” – Samuel Kissi, former President, Curious Minds Ghana


When girls are healthy and their rights are fulfilled, they have the opportunity to attend school, learn life skills, and grow into empowered young women. Wherever girls’ SRHR are ignored, major educational barriers follow. Child marriage and early pregnancy are major contributors to school dropout rates. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are married before age 18 at an alarming 50 percent and 40 percent respectively. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 90 percent of adolescent pregnancies occur in marriage, it is safe to assume that not all those sexual acts were consensual and not all those pregnancies were planned.


Economic Benefits


“Initially I used to oppose family planning, but now I fully support. I support it because my wife has more time to work and earn money.” – The Honorable Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minster of Foreign Affairs for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, sharing the story of an Ethiopian man’s changed opinion regarding the importance of SRHR


Protecting SRHR not only saves lives and empowers people, but it also leads to significant economic gains for individuals and for the community as a whole. As previously stated, ensuring SRHR helps to decrease school dropout rates and, as a result, leads to a more productive and healthy workforce as each additional year of schooling for girls increases their employment opportunities and future earnings by nearly 10 percent.


Broader Health Agenda


“We cannot eliminate new HIV infections without providing SRHR services to women so they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their children in the future. Yes, we will end the AIDS epidemic, but first we need to respect the dignity and the equality of women and young girls.” – Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS


Access to SRHR guarantees quality family planning services, counseling and health information. These services are critical, particularly because women are often victims of gender-based violence and sexual assault and thereby face greater risks for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS. Failing to secure and uphold SRHR dooms women and girls with an increased risk of unsafe, non-consensual sex and maternal mortality.


Gender Equality


“How can you control your life if you cannot control your fertility?” – Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator


When a woman can easily plan her family, she is more equipped to participate in the economy alongside her male colleagues. When the sexual rights of a woman or girl are fulfilled, she will experience decreased rates of sexual violence and enjoy a healthy relationship with a respectful partner. When a woman or girl does not fall victim to child marriage and early pregnancy, she can stay in school and achieve anything she puts her mind to.




“The woman continues to bring life, to bring up the next generation, to stand before you and say, ‘I am ready to embrace my rights and to deliver a better planet to humanity.’” – Joy Phumaphi, former Minister of Health, Botswana; Chair, Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health


A 2012 study found that community water and sanitation projects designed and run by women are more sustainable and effective than those that are not. Similarly, women produce 60 to 80 percent of food in developing countries and, with the economic and educational gains that coincide with secured SRHR, a woman is better equipped to effectively manage her land.


The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals will not happen without SRHR being addressed. So far, the world has failed to recognize that SRHR are equally as fundamental to global development as finance and trade. We can no longer afford to view SRHR as a taboo or promiscuous topic. When 90% of first births in low-income countries are to girls under 18; when the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 is pregnancy and childbirth; when two-thirds of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among adolescent girls; and when 200 million women want to use family planning methods but lack access, the young girls and women of the world do not have a promiscuity problem – they have a human rights problem.


By Elisabeth Epstein

25 September 2014


Urban population boom poses massive challenges for Africa and Asia

The UN predicts that two-thirds of the world will live in cities by 2050, with 90% of growth taking place in the global south


Two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, posing unique infrastructural challenges for African and Asian countries, where 90% of the growth is predicted to take place.

The planet's urban population – which overtook the number of rural residents in 2010 – is likely to rise by about 2.5 billion to more than 6 billion people in less than 40 years, according to a UN report. Africa and Asia "will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and healthcare", it adds.

Future development targets should focus on creating inclusive cities with adequate infrastructure and services for all residents, said John Wilmoth, director of the UN's population division. "Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century," he said. "Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda."

The report says rapid urbanisation will bring opportunities for governments to improve access to important services. "Providing public transportation, as well as housing, electricity, water and sanitation for a densely settled population is typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than providing a similar level of services to a predominantly rural household," it says.

Africa is projected to experience a 16% rise in its urban population by 2050 – making it the most rapidly urbanising region on the planet – as the number of people living in its cities soars to 56%.

The report predicts there will be more than 40 megacities worldwide by 2050,each with a population of at least 10 million. Delhi, Shanghai and Tokyo are predicted to remain the world's most populous cities in 2030, when each is projected to be home to more than 30 million people.

"Several decades ago most of the world's largest urban agglomerations were found in the more developed regions, but today's large cities are concentrated in the global south," the UN says. "The fastest growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with fewer than 1 million inhabitants, located in Asia and Africa."

The world's 3.4 billion-strong rural population will start to decline as urbanisation becomes more common, the report says. The UN projects that rural populations will increase in only a third of countries between 2014 and 2050, as states with large rural communities will take longer to urbanise. "In general, the pace of urbanisation tends to slow down as a population becomes more urbanised," the report says.

The UN cautions that sustainable urbanisation requires cities to generate better income and employment opportunities, and "expand the necessary infrastructure for water and sanitation, energy, transportation, information and communications; ensure equal access to services; reduce the number of people living in slums; and preserve the natural assets within the city and surrounding areas".

Urbanisation has historically taken place in wealthy countries, but such expansion is now happening most rapidly in upper-middle-income countries, where gross national income per capita is between $1,046 and $4,125.


Nigeria: Post-2015 Agenda – Addressing the Inadequacies in Women’s Rights


Women rights activists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) recently gathered in Istanbul, Turkey to address the failures of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the rights of women, and proffer solutions for inclusion in the post-2015 agenda, at an event organised by the Journalists and Writers Foundation of Turkey. Damilola Oyedele was there.

Have the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) failed to adequately address issues of women rights across the globe? The High Commissioner, United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR), Ms. Navi Pillay, certainly thinks so. For her, the MDGs did not address a number of critical issues bordering on women as they are too narrowly defined.

In a video message to participants at the Summit on Women's Perspectives on UN Post 2015 Development Agenda held in Istanbul recently, Pillay lamented that the MDGs failed to address the shocking crimes of Gender Based Violence (GBV), failed to highlight a demand for equal access for women to the common goods of education, housing, sanitation and water.

According to her, they also ignored the terrible burden of conflict on women. By being too narrowly minded, Pillay believes the MDGs restricted women issues to those affecting motherhood and the injustice of women's unpaid work.

"Our new framework for development must therefore be built upon the great human right treaties that form the bedrock of our international system. Its goals must be aligned with those of human rights including freedom from want, freedom from fear, non-discrimination and equality and protection of our environment. In each area, our new development framework must specify the actions that would be needed to ensure women's rights with explicit reference to realities of women's lives and the long and suffocating legacy of discrimination," she said.

Summit Focus The two day summit, organised by the Journalists and Writers Foundation, a Turkish NGO which holds a General Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), was aimed at contributing to the process of the post-2015 new agenda named the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Highlights of the agenda for the 306 participants and 109 NGOs from 44 countries include eradication of poverty: what should be done in post-2015 development agenda to go further, specific policies for women, ways to change the rhetorics from that of 'charity' to that of partnership and the creation of decent work for inclusive growth.

Filling the Gaps Under the Women's Empowerment agenda, participants examined modalities for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, ensuring equal rights of women to own and inherit property, equal opportunities in decision making positions, enabling gender equality in employment and eliminating obstacles for women to enter political, economic and public life.

Other highlights on the agenda for discussion included health, education, food security, water supply and sanitation, environment and climate change and energy, sustainable economic development, peace and good governance.

Victims of Discrimination From Albania, to Norway, to Lithuania, to Nigeria, to Mozambique, to Istanbul, one thing was clear, that several years following the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action (1995) and the Cairo Declaration on Population and Development (2004), women across the world continue to suffer all forms of discrimination despite their national governments being signatories to agreements from these declarations.

In Egypt, although women were fully a part of the revolution tagged 'Arab Spring', they were labelled unpatriotic when they put forward the gender agenda before the new political class. In Albania, only six per cent of farmlands are owned by women, and 87 per cent of women do not get paid for the work they do. In Turkey, only 25 per cent of women are in the country's labour force, and women have been cast primarily as home makers who should be dependent on their husbands.

In India, reports of rape and bride murders continue to dominate the headlines. In Pakistan, the right of choice in marriage continues to be elusive for most women. In Sudan, women risk being stoned to death if they exercise choice in marrying outside their religion. In Saudi Arabia, women are still denied the right to drive, even though it is the 21st century.

In Nigeria, half-hearted gender equity attempts by the different arms of government have helped to perpetuate GBV, child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking in women and girls, unequal opportunities and others, through what has been labelled the need to preserve social and cultural values. Nigerians would remember how the Senate during the last constitutional amendment exercise deliberately refused to peg the marriage age at 18 years, in deference to religious and cultural sensibilities.

Changing the Mindset The attitude which fuels such half-hearted attempts, as the former Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr. Nafis Sadik, at the summit puts it, is that girls are safer within the 'confines' of marriage. Now Special Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Sadik believes that a major step towards gender equity and equality is to work to change the mindset of communities and national leaders that gender equality is in everyone's interest.

"…that resources devoted to universal access to reproductive and sexual health and information and services for girls and women must be an important part of the health agenda. To take action against unsafe abortion does not mean that you must deny that abortion exists. Drive home the message that education, empowering girls and women are essential to economic security, social integration and the whole country's progress in the area of all of these development goals," she said while addressing participants.

According to the UN, 40 million girls under the age of 18 are at the risk of early marriage globally, and because of this, the highest cause of death among girls between the ages of 15-19 is maternal death especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

"…some families still believe that girls are safer in marriage than in school and their leaders allow the belief to persist. In many girls and many people's minds even today, women's role is in marriage and having children, and girl's education is only a preparation for that. In that case, they think education need not include sexual and reproductive health rights. In fact, they think it should not be included because it might give girls ideas they should not be having," Sadik lamented.

"We still have a long way to go. In my travels and discussions, I still find policy makers and even national leaders themselves who somehow regard essential services for girls and women as a matter of social welfare and even charity. They think of pregnancy and childbirth as part of the normal things, something that just happens. Apparently in their minds, women's death and disability just happen too. To the tune of 320,000 maternal deaths a year and 10 times that number of infections and injuries, they are hardly concerned with the oppression which make up women's daily lives," she added.

Sensitive Heartbeat As Pillay summarises, the heartbeat of the new agenda must be the heartbeat of accountability, it must track progress of each target and deploy much more accurate and pertinent information on discriminatory laws, unpaid work, inequality within the home, gender based violence, and women's sexual and reproductive health.

"Women's rights are inseparable from men's. They are not optional. Protecting and promoting women's equality is the responsibility of every government. Human rights will only be respected and our societies will only flourish when governments deliver on that responsibility," she summarised.

Is Anyone There? On the sidelines of the summit, THISDAY visited the Kimse Yok Mu (meaning Is anyone there?), a sister organisation of the JWF. It is a NGO that works to provide humanitarian aid particularly in disaster areas. Established in 2002, the name was coined after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey where those trapped under wreckage and their rescues were shouting at each other: "is anyone there?".

The NGO, although it has no branches outside Turkey, currently works in 110 countries with like-minded NGOs resident in those countries or individuals. It has 60,000 volunteers working in all its 41 branches across Turkey.

The Public Relations Officer of the Istanbul branch, Ms. Fatima Demirtas, told THISDAY about Kimse Yok Mu's collaboration with the Nizamiye hospital in Abuja to provide 1,000 cataract surgeries for indigent Nigerians. The NGO would pay for the cost of each unit of materials used for the surgeries.

Kimse Yok Mu professional volunteers provide psychological support to those traumatised by disasters, and build temporary shelters for families that have lost their homes. Poor families are assisted to become economically empowered and their debts are paid off where they exist. The NGO currently has at least 500 Somalis studying in Turkey on scholarship.

Some of its volunteers make items such as table-clothes, shawls, embroidered outfits, etc for sale to raise funds for the humanitarian work. "Some of the ladies choose to volunteer their services at the centre instead of just staying at home. We do not pay them any money for their services but they get to socialise with each other and do some good to humanity," Demirtas said.

She also explained that the organisation carries out adequate investigations to verify claims that a family or individual is indigent before including such on its charity programmes. This, she said, is to ensure that the services go to those who truly deserve them.


5 June 2014

Source: All Africa


Southern Africa – Alliance calls for strong rights approach post-2015


Following the celebratory SADC Gender Protocol@Work awards last week, the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance is calling for a strong rights-based approach to the post-2015 SADC Gender Protocol agenda and global development framework.


Last week's regional Summit, which brought together over 400 gender activists, media, government and faith-based organisations from 14 Southern African countries, provided a platform for sharing good practice and acknowledged the work of gender drivers of change. The summit but also held numerous parallel meetings to strategise for continued efforts to achieve gender equality.


Held under the banner "5050 by 2015 and a strong post 2015 agenda" the gathering provided a watershed moment to plan for the year ahead, with ten elections in various Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. The civil society Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance will present the outcomes of the sessions at the SADC Heads of State Summit in August in Zimbabwe.


The 5050 plenary session highlighted the need women's quotas at all levels, particularly political and economic decision-making. With women's representation in politics declining following recent elections in some SADC countries such as South Africa, delegates concluded that deliberate measures need to be legislated and implemented.


The 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol that provides a sub-regional roadmap for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 (gender equality) are due to be achieved by 2015, also the deadline for the MDG's. The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer shows that the region is only about two thirds of the way towards achieving these objectives.


Globally, there is a strong movement to strengthen the gender provisions of the post 2015 agenda. The Alliance is leading a campaign for a strong and revitalised SADC Gender Protocol within the context of the global campaign.


At the post-2015 meeting held last week, Alliance members discussed the strengthening of all thematic areas of the post-2015 SADC Gender Protocol, but placed specific emphasis on burning issues across Southern Africa, highlighting the need to recognise that women are not a homogenous group. The Alliance members thus called for a human rights approach to ensure the new framework is aligned to the global developmental agenda for the achievement of voice, choice and control for all women in all sectors of society.


Members of the Alliance stressed specific areas of concern such as women's empowerment and the crucial link between economic independence in helping curb gender based violence (GBV); greater access to sexual and reproductive health rights; disability and gender and the need to acknowledge that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights are fundamental in achieving gender justice and equality. Alliance chair Emma Kaliya from Malawi called for solidarity amongst country representatives by saying, "If an issue is a priority for one country, it is a priority for the whole region."


Climate change and gender justice also remained high on the post-2015 strategy for Southern Africa, especially with the recent discovery of oil and gas in Mozambique. Members called for equitable access to and distribution of wealth, but also environmentally sustainable exploration and development.


Alliance members emphasised the importance of grass roots mobilisation in advancing gender equality, as well as the vital role that youth, men's groups and faith-based organisations play in fighting for human rights and achieving gender justice.


SADC Gender Protocol Alliance members also discussed measures to strengthen and diversify the Alliance in terms of its mandate and also elected a new chairperson– Emma Kaliya, also Chair of the NGO Co-ordination Network in Malawi.


As part of the post-2015 agenda discussion, the Gender, Media and Diversity Centre (GMDC) held a parallel session on gender and media, strategising on how SADC media houses and media training institutions can contribute to the Beijing plus 20 review as well as various initiatives with the newly formed Global Forum on Media and Gender (GAMAG).


This year's SADC Gender Protocol@Work Summit was especially unique because for the first time it followed 15 district level summits and 13 national summits across Southern Africa. It also introduced emerging entrepreneurs as a new category, which saw survivors of GBV presenting their business plans following training rolled out by Gender Links.


After a bilateral meeting, the Namibian delegation said they wanted to introduce a gender summit modelled on the SADC Gender Protocol Summit, to create incentive to mainstream gender in local government ministries within the country.


For the first time five government ministries presented their work on gender mainstreaming and one government ministry went further in scooping the women's rights award. Fifty of the participants that attended the regional summit last week were first-time travellers outside their country and 26 applied for passports for the first time.


The regional Summit together with the district and national summits involved 2363 participants, providing a platform for 190 gender-mainstreaming presentations and awarded a total of 24 winners and 18 runners-up, out of the 185 winners (53 men and 132 women) from the district and national summits.


These gender drivers of change received certificates of recognition and shook hands with the Mauritian Minister for Gender, Mireille Martin and Lesotho's Minister for Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Chief Thesele Maseribane. Representatives from the Department for International Development (DFID) and Norwegian Church Aid congratulated Gender Links, the Alliance and all participants for contributing to the advancement of gender justice and equality in Southern Africa.


Dr. Andrew Nikiindo, Vice Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia who also spoke at the awards ceremony, urged all participants to continue their fight for gender equality and to carry the baton forward beyond 2015. "Today is an important day for you, these awards show the important role that you have played and are still expected to play in future," stressed Nikiindo


By Katherine Robinson

5 June 2014


Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Co-Chairs release the Zero draft for OWG-12


Zero draft  

The Co-Chairs have now released the “zero draft” of goals and targets, in preparation for the 12th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG-12), which takes place 16-20 June at the United Nations in New York.

Accompanying letter from Co-Chairs

In their accompanying letter they refer to the draft chapeau that has now been incorporated into the zero draft. They also reconfirm the dates for the informal-informals (informal discussions), which will take place from Monday to Wednesday, 9-11 June. Their purpose is to “take an initial sounding of delegations’ views on the zero draft” and to provide an opportunity for Member States “to consult on the proposed goals, their targets and means of implementation contained in the zero draft. They also reminded Member States that only 10 days of formal work remain for the OWG process. The full text of the letter is available here.

Introduction and Proposed Goals and Targets on Sustainable Development for the Post2015 Development Agenda – Preliminary comments

In addition to the introduction, the zero draft provides a list of proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are based on and replace the focus areas, as included in the working document that was discussed in OWG-11.  Each proposed goal has a number of proposed targets. The final proposed goal, proposed goal 17, includes suggestions for means of implementation. 

It should be noted that proposed goal 3 is now “Attain health life for all at all ages” with “population dynamics” being dropped from it. Proposed goal 4 is “Provide equitable and inclusive quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all” and proposed goal 5 is “Attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere.” 

A preliminary look at the zero draft shows that under proposed goal 3 there is a separate target on reducing the maternal mortality ratio, as well as targets on child mortality and on HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases. There are targets on non-communicable diseases, universal health coverage and healthy life expectancy.  Target 3(f) in the working document has now been become “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health for all” in target 3.8.

Target 4.7, under proposed goal 4 on education curricula now reads: “…integrate relevant knowledge and skills in education curricula and training programmes…” It refers to “education for sustainable development and awareness raising on cultures contribution to sustainable development.” Comprehensive sexuality education has not been included.  Meanwhile ICT skills have been dropped.

Proposed goal 5 now includes female genital mutilations as well as child, early and forced marriage in target on eliminating all harmful practices. Target 5.9, like target 5(i) in the working document, says “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,” however, “in accordance with the Programme of Action of the ICPD” has been added.

While there is no specific reference to population dynamics, issues related to migration can be found in goals including proposed goal 8 “Promote strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all” and the proposed goal 11 “Build inclusive, safe and sustainable cities and human settlements” addresses issues related to urbanization. It should be noted that issues related to young people and the elderly are still not adequately addressed. 

There are still only limited references to human rights in the goals themselves. The introduction, however, specifically states: “We reaffirm …respect for all human rights…” It then goes on to reaffirm “the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other international instruments relating to human rights and international law.”

Proposed goal 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries” has been re-introduced and contains two parts – “Reduce inequality among social groups within countries” and “International actions to reduce inequalities among nations.”  The former includes the following targets: 10.1 “eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices” and 10.5 “empower and promote the social and economic inclusion of …women, minorities, migrants, persons with disabilities, older persons, children and youth.” 

As we move towards the OWG-12, for which we do not yet have the agenda and programme of work, we will have further comments on the zero draft. Click here to read the full Zero Draft

3 June 2014


Women’s health communities critical to reducing maternal and child mortality in Africa.

Obstetricians and gynecologists, ministers, public health specialists and civil society organizations convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 2-5 October at the First International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Africa Regional Conference to discuss ways of improving maternal and child health in Africa.

Speaking at the opening, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Luiz Loures highlighted the link between HIV and maternal and child health. He called for women’s health and HIV communities to closely work together to increase access to life-saving health services to reach the most marginalized in society.  He also stressed the need to uphold the sexual and reproductive rights of women living with HIV.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women are more likely to be living with HIV than men, accounting for 58% of the 22.1 million adults who were living with HIV in the region in 2012. Young women are particularly at risk of HIV infection–– around 28% of all new adult HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among young women between the ages of 15-24. HIV is also a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and has a major impact on child health and mortality, mainly through the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

Dr Loures congratulated FIGO on its visionary and bold work on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. He also underscored UNAIDS commitment to strengthening its collaboration with FIGO to raise political visibility and engage women’s networks on HIV and sexual and reproductive rights issues to reduce AIDS related maternal and child mortality.


Human rights must be at the centre of our practice as everyone has a right to live. Our primary commitment as physicians is to save lives.

Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme

FIGO looks forward to active collaboration with UNAIDS to ensure the protection of the rights of women living with HIV regarding access to their services in the health sector.

Professor Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, FIGO President

Ethiopia has made excellent progress towards achieving the millennium development goals on maternal and child health and we are grateful for the assistance from our partners, such as FIGO and UNAIDS.

Dr Amir Amare, State Minister at the Federal Ministry of Health – Ethiopia

Are you in(volved)? Are you in(vited)? Are you in (ICPD)?

Are you in (ICPD)?

On 30th September – 4th October 2013, the African Regional Conference on Population and Development will be held in Addis Ababa to review progress toward the ICPD Programme of Action. This conference will bring together representatives from African government, civil society and youth organisations, and will agree a set of priorities, challenges and emerging issues for the African region.

Are you in(vited)?

From the 24th-25th September, youths from across Africa will come together during the Youth Pre-conference to identify their priorities. This will be followed by the CSO Pre-conference to be held on 26th-27th September (also tasked with identification of priorities). These combined recommendations will be presented before the experts prior to the Ministerial meeting from 30th– 4th September, 2013.

Are you in(formed)?

In response to the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), the African Union Commission (AUC), AAI and the African Population Commission (APC) worked together to develop the African Common Position on ICPD by means of Regional Consultative Meetings which was followed by a second round of E-consultations. This generated recommendations from over 70 African experts in line with key themes within the document. On completion and adoption of all these recommendations, 342 civil society organizations signed the CSO African Common Position endorsing it as a document that represents their needs going into the Sept conference and ICPD Review process.

The CSO ACP was submitted to H.E. Dr. Mustapha S. Kaloko, the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the AUC on 5 June, 2013. The CSO African Common Position on ICPD is expected to inform the youth, CSO pre-conference documents and the experts meeting. We are currently lobbying those who will be in the experts’ room, and ensuring ministers of health receive a copy of the CSO African Common Position on ICPD prior to the conference. In addition, we continue circulating the CSO African Common Position through all our social media platforms.

Are you in(volved)?

Read more on the African Common Position on ICPD, as this document contains a set of recommendations aimed at the African Union Commission and Africa’s national governments so as to address population and development issues on the African Continent in the ICPD+20 review process. This will ensure your meaningful participation at the Regional Conference on Population and Development as we advocate for key priorities for Africa. We further ask you to be involved by lobbying your contacts too for inclusion of contents of the CSO African Common Position and vote at the Regional Conference on Population and Development. Lastly, follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn for continued updates.

To make it easier for you, AAI has distilled the full Civil Society African Common Position on ICPD into a 2 page Key Messages in Brief document

The African Common Position is also available in Portuguese, French and Arabic:

Agora disponivel em portugues

Maintenant disponible en francais

الآن باللغة العربية

We sincerely hope that you will find the above information useful as we prepare for the Regional Conference on Population and Development.

Best regards,

The AAI Team


Are you in(cluded)?

Failure to include reproductive health for women as a priority affects sub-Saharan African economies, expert says

Failure for Sub-Saharan African countries to work towards achieving Millennium Development Goals on health will impact all other aspects of development including economic growth, Akatsa Bukachi, Director, Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women (EASSI) has said.

Speaking to Africa Science News in Busia town, Bukachi said the Sub-Saharan Africa region is deficient in areas of reproductive health that is crucial for addressing the MDG on Children and maternal in health. Bukachi observed that reproductive health is fundamental in the advancement of women and girl child in Africa.

She noted that the African continent will only achieve its MDG on health if proper incentives to improve family planning, reduce maternal mortality and prevent HIV/Aids infections are prioritized. Family planning as a strong component of better reproductive health has steadily declined in the recent years in sub-Saharan Africa but it needs to be prioritised.

In the last 10 years, Sub-Saharan Africa region still grapples with the highest number of maternal mortality ratio of 500 maternal deaths in 100,000 lives.

Bukachi said that despite most countries in the region boasting that the number of women dying as a result of pregnancy and child birth-related complications has declined to 47 percent from more than 543,000 to 287,000 cases globally has been registered, nonetheless, the war against maternal mortality especially is far from over. She called for synergy to advocate for a strong pillar in reproductive health agenda.

The Director disclosed that reproductive health challenges are huge and women should take their positions in addressing the problems.

The Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women is on the front to advocate for a complete diet and women girl child health situation in Eastern Africa Region.

In most cases in Africa continent, nutrition has always played out in the rising statistics of maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation operates in eight Eastern Africa Countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia. Other countries in clued; Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eritrea and Burundi.

By Cheki Abuje

UN Deploys Women Protection Advisers to Curb Rape in Africa

Despite the United Nations’ zero-tolerance policy against sexual violence, gender-based crimes have broken out across several of the world’s latest conflict zones. Included on that list are South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

Describing rape as “a weapon of war”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council last month that sexual violence occurred wherever conflicts raged, “devastating survivors and destroying the social fabric of whole communities”.

“It was a crime under international human rights law and a threat to international peace and security,” he said.

Since most of the heinous crimes are taking place in conflict zones overseen by UN peacekeeping missions, the preeminent international organization is issuing Women Protection Advisers (WPAs) to specifically curb sexual violence in war zones. For starters, they will be deployed with peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, DRC, Mali and Somalia.

“First-ever scenario-based training programme”

The secretary-general said that UN Women and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have developed, on behalf of the UN Action Network, the “first-ever scenario-based training programme for peacekeepers”. Noteworthy is the fact that some UN peacekeepers have in the past, along with aid workers, been accused of sexual violence – specifically in South Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast and Haiti.

The UN will also set up a team of experts on “the rule of law and sexual violence in conflict”, described as an important tool for strengthening national justice systems and legal frameworks. The team has already provided technical advice to governments in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Ivory Coast, DRC, Guinea, Liberia, Somalia and South Sudan.

DRC situation is “unacceptable”

More recently, in late June, the United Nations described as “unacceptable” several cases of rape of young girls in DRC. Nine young girls, aged between 18 months and 12 years, were admitted to a hospital in South Kivu with marks of violence on their bodies and very serious internal wounds, resulting in the death of two.

“Such violence and abuse is unacceptable and must be brought to an end,” said Roger Meece, head of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. “These abuses are said to be related to harmful traditional practices perpetrated by individuals who kidnap young children from their communities.”

There were also widespread reports of 135 women and girls allegedly raped by government soldiers in Minova in eastern DRC back in 2012.

Safety and dignity of survivors

The UN should take urgent action to ensure that WPAs be trained before their deployment and encouraged to work collaboratively with already operational humanitarian structures, said Marcy Hersh, a senior advocate for women and girls’ rights at Refugees International. Additionally, they should be held accountable to fundamental and non-negotiable ethical and safety criteria for investigating sexual violence in conflict, which preserves the safety and dignity of survivors.

Hersh said the recently unanimously passed Security Council Resolution 2106 includes language that is in accordance with these recommendations in its calls for the timely deployment of WPAs, their adequate training, and their coordination across multiple sectors.


By Thalif Deen

22 July 2013


Women’s Rights in Africa: 18 countries are yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol!

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Coalition of the campaign, Africa for Womens’ Rights : Ratify and Respect reiterates its call for the continental ratification of this progressive instrument within the African human rights system and for its effective implementation.

Adopted on July 11, 2013, to complement and strengthen the articles of the African Charter related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights, the Maputo Protocol is an important instrument of reference. Its provisions, with regard to civil and political rights, physical and psychological integrity, sexual and reproductive health, non-discrimination, economic emancipation, among others, symbolise African States’ commitments to put an end to discrimination, violence and gender stereotypes against women.

« The adoption of the Maputo Protocol was an exceptional moment, historical for the realisation of the rights of women in Africa. Today, this instrument constitutes a model, a endless source of inspiration. Provided its ratification and full implementation, it can represent a real tool of action for the lasting transformation of our societies » declared Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa.

36 out of 54 member States of the African Union (AU) have so far ratified the Protocol, a clear victory for those who over the years have tirelessly mobilised and worked to achieve this goal. Moreover, in many countries, legal and institutional measures, such as laws prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence (Kenya, Liberia), criminalising domestic violence (Ghana, Mozambique), prohibiting female genital mutilation (Uganda, Zimbabwe) or establishing mechanisms mandated to promote women’s rights (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal), have accompanied these ratifications.



See the interview of Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa, on the progress made and challenges remaining since the adoption of the Protocol (interview conducted on 10 July 2013)


Despite these notable achievements, there are still some obstacles to the full realisation of women’s rights on the continent. Eighteen (18) states [1], have still not ratified the Protocol, and in several of these countries – including Sudan, Central African Republic or Egypt, which still facing serious political crisis or situations of armed conflicts – women continue to be the main targets of violence, discrimination and stigmatisation.

For Sheila Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and Ag. Deputy Executive Director (Programs) at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI – Uganda), «Non-State Parties should understand that, today, the trend goes on the other side. 10 years after its adoption, it is time for these States to ratify the Protocol and accept that the guarantee and protection of women’s fundamental rights can no longer suffer from political, cultural or religious considerations or pretexts ».

In State Parties, several of the rights enshrined in the Protocol, or provided within national laws, are yet to be fully implemented. In DRC, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, thousands of women victims of sexual violence continue to demand justice and compensation; in Uganda, they are still waiting for equality within the family to be recognised ; in Nigeria, they continue to fight for their right to property to become a reality. Unfortunately, most of the State Parties do not respect their obligation, under article 26 of the Protocol, to indicate, in their periodic reports submitted to the ACHPR, the measures undertaken for the full realisation of women’s rights as provided within the Maputo Protocol.

«The adoption of the Maputo Protocol by African States represented a formidable progress from a legal point of view ; its effective implementation should now symbolise the respect of the obligations they have freely consented to abide by » declared Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative to the African Union.

On this tenth anniversary of the Maputo Protocol, the Coalition of the Campaign Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect pays tribute to the determination and courage of the women and men who advocate tirelessly to ensure that the rights guaranteed in the Maputo Protocol are not lost. In this regard, our Coalition notes with concerns the repeated attacks in several countries against women activists, a phenomenon that must be taken seriously and to which States must respond without delay. The Coalition of the Campaign calls on all national, regional and international actors to join the considerable efforts that are made on a daily basis for the ratification and enforcement of the Maputo Protocol.
SOURCE : International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)10 July 2013