Africa: Can the New African Court Truly Deliver Justice for Serious Crimes?
The latest version of the zero draft report from the Open Working Group developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hit the internet late Monday evening. This is the final draft that member states will have a chance to respond to before the final report is produced and shared with the Secretary General prior to the United Nations General Assembly in September. It is fairly similar to the last draft in that it still has the same 17 goals, with small semantic differences. Overall, there are fewer targets, but both the targets and the process are becoming increasingly convoluted.
This draft misses the integration, aspiration, transformation and sustainability that were meant to drive the post-2015 agenda. We see important targets missing in this lengthy draft, but we have yet to really see the difficult trade-offs that a final set of implementable goals would require.
Sexual and reproductive health has disappeared from the Health Goal. While a target on sexual and reproductive health was previously included under both the Health and Gender goals, it now only appears under the Gender goal as “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in accordance with the Programme of Action of the ICPD and the Beijing Platform for Action.” This is problematic for two reasons:
1. Without SRH under the health goal, family planning is in jeopardy of not being recognized in this new development framework. SRHR is a major component of overall health not only for women and girls, but also for men and boys. It is therefore critical to be included within a discussion of health.
2. The qualifier of ICPD and Beijing is unnecessary and weakens the human rights frame of the target. Nowhere else in the Open Working Group’s draft document is such a caveat introduced. As such, it undermines the principle of arriving at a forward-looking set of SDGs. There is no need to qualify universal access to sexual and reproductive health or reproductive rights. With a reference to ICPD and Beijing already in the introduction, we hope to see this qualifier removed.
In New York for the Open Working Group session last week, you could see will, desire, and investment on the faces of delegates, civil society, co-chairs. But you could also see the fatigue. This has been a long and intensive exercise that has lasted nearly two years already. Now is the time point to put words down on paper and respond to drafts in order to rescue the jumbled mess that the draft goals have become.
The final round of informal discussions by the Open Working Group takes place July 14 to 18. The co-chairs (from Kenya and Hungary) will incorporate this final feedback from member states into a final report submitted to the Secretary General in August. A report will simultaneously be submitted by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing. The Secretary General will then take these inputs, among others, and produce his own report, and full negotiations are expected to start in January 2015. The co-chairs of the post-2015 summit (September 21 to 23) are Denmark and Papua New Guinea.
By A. Tianna Scozzaro, Population and Climate Associate -
3 July 2014
Every year, 14 million girls are married off before they turn 18, with devastating consequences for their health, education and wellbeing. 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa.
In an effort to provide a bright future for millions of women and girls, the African Union has launched the first-ever Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. The two-year campaign, organised in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, will focus on accelerating change across the continent by encouraging African governments to develop strategies to raise awareness of and address the harmful impact of child marriage.
The campaign also aims to support policies and action that protect girls’ human rights, and to remove barriers to law enforcement.
The campaign brings together a large range of partners including the Ford Foundation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Save the Children, Plan International, Africa Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the General Secretary of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a member of Girls Not Brides, was named Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.
Child marriage is a reality for millions of children – predominantly girls – across Africa. 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthday; 13% are married by their 15th birthday.
The repercussions of marrying as a child affect girls throughout their lives. Marriage often marks the end of girl’s education, limits her economic opportunities outside the home, and exposes her to physical, sexual and emotional violence.
Child marriage also threatens efforts to improve maternal health across Africa. Child brides face higher risk of death and injury in pregnancy and childbirth, with girls under 15 being five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Their children are at risk too: when a mother is under 18, her baby is 50% more likely to die in its first year of life than a baby born to older mothers.
Africans are raising their voices on social media in support of the campaign.
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
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 29May 2014 –“We cannot down play or neglect the harmful practice of child marriage as it has long term and devastating effects on these girls whose health is at risk and at worst leading to death due to child birth and other complications,” says Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
“Child marriage concerns human rights, gender, health and culture and is a development issue which is complex, caused and maintained by a number of factors, such as poverty, gender based violence and gender discrimination, among others,” she said in her statement read on her behalf by Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the AUC Commissioner for Social Affairs at the continental launch of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa, held on 29 May 2014, at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The AUC Chairperson reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to ensure sustained political will and continuous coordination and harmonization of all efforts to achieve the desired goals.
Child marriage continues to affect millions of girls every year in Africa with the resultant outcome of high rates in maternal and child mortality; obstetric fistula, premature births, sexually transmitted diseases (including cervical cancer), and HIV and domestic violence. Girls continue to be married as children in Africa, with more than five and a half million women who are today in their early 20s married before they reached their 15th birthday.
Participants at the launch, who included African Ministers in-charge of Social Development, UN agencies, civil society organisations, experts, and survivors of child marriage, were informed that if nothing was done in the next decade, 14.2 million girls under 18 years will be married every year, which translates into 39,000 girls married each day. If this trend continues, the number of girls under 15 giving birth is expected to rise from 2 million to 3 million by 2030, in Africa. The costs of inaction, in terms of rights unrealized, foreshortened personal potential and lost development opportunities, far outweigh the costs of interventions.
Ms. Bineta Diop, the AUC Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security emphasized that educating girls, will help improve Africa’s socio-economic development and that no child’s education should be interrupted at any time because of marriage. She noted that the real cases of child marriage happen at the grassroots and all stakeholders must work to ensure that this campaign gets to the local communities.
Despite these challenges, child marriage rates are declining as a result of local action in African countries. “As we watch the rates of child marriage decline, we can expect to seemore girls in school for a longer time, more girls accessing health and protection services, less violence against women and girls, more qualified women participating in the labour force and more empowered women who are able to overcome poverty for themselves, their children and their family,”said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, while reaffirming UNICEF’s commitment to supporting the campaign.
“Child marriage remains a fundamental human rights violation and is a symptom of the prevailing gender inequalities all of us are fighting so hard to prevent,” he added, while also highlighting the existing pan-African momentum and partnership on ending child marriage.
On her part, Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, confirmed support to the campaign, noting: “Ending child marriage will require unambiguous political commitment, visionary leadership, and support for grassroots advocacy to address many of the cultural practices and behaviors that place young women and girls at increased multiple health risks, including HIV.”
She noted that laws needed to be enforced against child marriage, including the enactment and enforcement of laws that raise the minimum age at marriage to 18.“It is therefore imperative to ensure holistic policy environment that supports and promotes human rights, builds capacity and empowers individuals, community stakeholders and organizations to change attitudes and the cultural and religious norms that perpetuate child marriage is critical,” she urged.
An important highlight of the launch was the naming of Ms. Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda as a Goodwill Ambassador for the campaign. MsGumbonzvanda is currently the General Secretary of the World YWCA. She is a trained human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation, including 20 years’ experience on issues of women and children’s human rights, with a special focus on crisis countries.
The campaign was launched during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development, held under the theme, “Strengthening the African Family for Inclusive Development in Africa”and will aim at ending child marriage by: (i) supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights, (ii) mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage, (iii) building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and (iv) increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.
Click here to read the press release.
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