There cannot be a demographic dividend if there is no gender dividend - Nayaradzayi Gumbodzvanda , Rosaria Memorial Trust
From the 27th -28th of June 2017, Akina Mama wa Afrika joined 55 international and national organizations at the 30th Gender is my Agenda Campaign(GIMAC) held at the African Union, in Addis Ababa.
The 30th GIMAC Session was held under the theme “Towards a continental policy framework for girls and young women - Gender Equality: A Human right and key driver for Economic Transformation” influenced by the AU Assembly decision (Assembly /AU/Dec.601 XXVI) of January 2016 that devoted the theme of the year 2017 to “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth.
Mindful of the recommendations and commitments made at the 29th GIMAC session in January the 30th GIMAC session sought to identify strategies approaches and interventions that have worked for gender responsive continental policy framework towards economic development with special focus on the demographic dividend and role of young women.
While deliberating on the 30th GIMAC sub-themes on education and skills development, employment and entrepreneurship, governance peace and security, SRHR, and agriculture, participants shared best practices such as Burkina Faso Agricultural incubation Center using technologies based on renewable energy for farming as well as Plan International’s shift from viewing girls as victims to girls with agency & resilience and using innovative approaches such as community owned projects. Also exhibited was AAPI’s use of art, videos and pictures to tell women’s stories for peace and highlighting the impact of war on women and role in peace building.
Despite the progress, participants remained cognizant of the existing challenges citing lack access to information and services on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, existence of harmful cultural practices such as FGM, early/forced and child marriages, lack of access to quality education, inadequate representation of women and girls in peace and decision making processes, implementation of laws and policies and criminalization of Abortion, among others.
The outcomes of GIMAC were also brought to the attention of Ministers at the 4th High level Panel in which a statement highlighting key priority recommendations was presented. In a snapshot the statement called on Ministers to address issues of access to education including STEM fields for refugees and internally displaced, appreciation & implementation of African Union Demographic Dividends Agenda, access to finance and training for young girl’s entrepreneurship, encouraged Member States to report on SDGEA, ratify and domesticate Maputo protocol. The statement further emphasized continued support and successful replication of agricultural related initiatives for women such as Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA), the IFDC-USAID Women Agricultural Programme, development and strengthening of legal instruments , creation of an environment that protects the girl child from early pregnancy and encouraged member states to guarantee access to education for adolescent mothers and enhance the agency of Youth and women in Governance and Peacebuilding.
Overall, women present at the 30th GIMAC session kept re-echoing the need to engender the demographic dividend and ensure that all efforts undertaken to implement the AU Road Map on harnessing the demographic dividend are gender sensitive in theory and practice. In addition, the women strongly called for the elimination of all forms of violation and discrimination against women and girls. Awake to the shocking news from Tanzania in which President John Pombe Magufuli issued a statement stopping pregnant girls from resuming school, the women were greatly concerned and called for girls to be given a second chance to go back to school and for the creation of an enabling environment and support mechanism to enable the girls to excel.