A parallel Session at the East Africa Law Society Annual General Meeting
Held on 26th November, 2016, JNICC, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Akina Mama wa Afrika in partnership with the Uganda Women Lawyers Association –FIDA Uganda and East Africa Law Society with support from Frederick Ebert Stiftung held a parallel event on the sidelines of the East Africa Law Society Annual General Meeting and Conference on Saturday 26th November, 2016 on the theme “Economic Justice for Women in the 21st Century”. The meeting was attended by over 60 lawyers (14 men and 46 women) drawn from across East Africa.
The objectives of the session included:
• Building understanding and consensus among the legal fraternity and decision makers in law firms on the structural nature of women’s economic inequality
• Promoting alternatives, in the context of current legal and development policies
• Providing a forum for the legal fraternity and other like-minded organizations to build alliances for women’s economic rights and justice
B) Welcome and Opening Remarks
The meeting begun with opening statements from the President of East Africa Law Society, FIDA Uganda, FIDA Kenya and FIDA Tanzania that emphasized the need to address the structural and practical needs that hinder women from enjoying economic opportunities. Policy strategies geared toward economic growth or increasing general education levels, although necessary, are generally insufficient to close gender gaps. The statements encouraged the participants to explore critical questions such as: why do these gaps persist? Are there examples at the policy or country levels that stand out as outliers having made greater progress, and what can we learn from them to encourage broader change?
C) Highlights of the Moderated Panel on Women’s Economic Justice in the 21st Century
Two of the panelists highlighted the persistent gender disparities in the work place that cut across multiple dimensions. Women remain heavily concentrated into lower-paying jobs, including less-productive and less-profitable than men. Women’s rights violations remain prevalent such as sexual harassment and respect for reproductive rights such as maternity leave which have been guaranteed by the employment acts in all East Africa countries. The top positions of CEOs, Company Secretaries, and Partners in the law firms remain dominated by men.
The third panelist discussed the gendered impact and implications of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFS) which takes away the much needed resources to invest in crucial public services such as education, health, social protection and in advancing gender equality and women’s human rights across board. Africa is suffering different types of Illicit Financial Flows including commercial activities, lack of resources, tax evasion, tax avoidance, criminal activities, human trafficking, forced labor and corruption.
FIDA Kenya shared highlights of their experiences on women’s underrepresentation and their quest for inclusion drawing on Article 27(8), also known as the “two-thirds gender rule” of the new Kenyan Constitution. It directs that the state should take legislative and other measures to ensure no more than two-thirds of all elective or appointive positions are held by the same gender. The two-thirds gender rule has stirred active public debate and litigation right from inception, including the Gender Representation Supreme Court Advisory opinion on whether the article was immediately realizable and FIDA Kenya and others V Attorney General and another challenging the gender composition of the Supreme Court.
D) Plenary Discussions and Way Forward
The plenary discussion interrogated the issues raised by the panelists and brought to the fore the following summary of recommendations;
• The need to promote women- friendly work place policies including zero tolerance for sexual harassment; providing flexi time for breastfeeding mothers, and crèches for the children among others;
• Investment in mentorship and coaching for the young women that are joining the sector;
• Adoption of multi-sectoral strategies to promote women and girls to advance women’s economic empowerment;
• Profiling of women to increase their visibility and opportunities to break the glass ceiling;
• Collective efforts needed to address structural barriers that hinder gender equality and women’s economic empowerment;
• Male engagement and identification of male champions in the fight for gender equality and women empowerment;
• Multi-sectoral approach is needed as legal strategies are inadequate to advance women’s economic empowerment
E) Key Outcomes
The key outcomes of the meeting were:
• A deeper appreciation of the structural barriers that hinder women’s economic advancement and decent work for women
• Concrete strategies and recommendations to advance women’s economic opportunities
• Strengthened network of women lawyers associations and other stakeholders to champion and promote women’s economic justice
Global economic integration, driven by the economic engines of liberalization, privatization and de(re)regulation, sometimes called neo-liberalization, is presenting a host of new challenges to seeking economic and social justice for women. Many of the advances women made during the 1970s and 1980s have been stalled or reversed. It is no longer adequate to simple critique the negative impact on neo-liberalism on women and advocate that they be better integrated into the economy. The very model of economic integration needs to be challenged and appropriate alternatives developed.
Theme:Drawing on existing initiatives to build a vibrant women’s movement advocating for women’s land rights in the new wave of land acquisition in Malawi"
Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) will from 7th – 10th of November, 2016 host a feminist leadership training focusing on the two modules of AMwA’s Africa Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI)curriculum- Organizing Skills and Taking Action, focusing majorly on feminist research and documentation, advocacy and accountability; Strategy Development and Communication for social change; movement building; Understanding social movements, Networks and Partnerships; Resource mobilization; Building Alliances and Networks.
The Institute is aimed at ensuring that women are able to analyze the impact of land acquisitions with a feminist lens and are equipped to adequately influence laws and policies on women’s land rights.
The training entails follow up activity that will support some of the participants to undertake Research and Documentation of women lived experiences to inform policy advocacy, policy influence and movement building.
The institute will bring together 20 feminist/women leaders from Malawi to include AMwA Alumnae and other women activists working on women’s land issues.
Please note that this call for Applications is only open to participants resident in Malawi only.
•A support letter from your organisation committing to support your engagement in the training and post training activities
•A brief CV (not more than 2 pages)
•A one-page motivation statement on why you would like to attend the AWLI and how you will use the experience to contribute to the enhancement of the movement on women’s land rights.
•One passport size photograph
•Information (brochures, leaflets) about your organisation
The deadline for receiving applications is 20th October 2016 Any applications received after this date will not be considered. Only successful participants will be notified of their selection.
Kindly circulate this call to all your networks.
Today, 2nd of September 2016, a consortium of four organisations Akina Mama wa Afrika Uganda, Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development UK, Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel UK and Young Women Leaders Institute Kenya are launching the TuWezeshe Akina Dada- Africa/UK Young Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Movement Project. This is part of the Common Ground Initiative funded by Comic Relief, and UK Department for International Development. The Project is aimed at amplifying actions to improve the rights of East African girls and young women to be free from all forms of violence, targeting Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Somaliland and UK-African Diaspora.
Violence against women and girls is a global human rights violation that gravely impacts on the health, development and progress of African women and girls. It takes many forms and includes female genital mutilation, child marriage, domestic violence, sex trafficking, intimate partner violence among others. While many African governments have demonstrated commitment to eliminate violence against women and girls through the adoption of international, regional and national policy frameworks and laws, there is limited progress on the implementation and enforcement of national laws and policies that prevent protect and support the needs of survivors.
Dr. Maggie Kigozi, a Board Member of Akina Mama wa Afrika, highlights the World Health Organisation report that shows 37% of African women are affected by intimate partner violence; 125 million women and girls from 28 African countries are living with female genital mutilation and 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa were married before the age of 18 years (UNICEF 2016) this demonstrates the urgent need for accelerated efforts to address these abuses and secure the liberty of African women and girls.
“For too long African women and girls have experienced multiple forms of violence, ending these human rights violations requires urgent actions at all levels including government commitment to protect and fulfil obligations as well as enabling young women to have the leadership and voice to advocate for their rights to be free from all forms of violence.” Naana Otoo-Oyortey MBE, Executive Director, FORWARD
TuWezeshe Akina Dada will bring about changes in the lives of young women through developing their leadership capacity to influence and shape decisions about their rights, amplify their voices and strengthen their collective action to be free from gender based violence. Unique to the project is building bridges between African Diaspora in the UK and Africa, to address this common problem.
TuWezeshe Akina Dada; My rights My Freedom is here to contribute to securing the dignity, freedom and rights of all African women and girls to achieve their potential and build an Africa that is peaceful, prosperous and equitable.
 Convention on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, Protocol to the African charter on human and peoples' rights on the rights of women in Africa