AU Summit: leaders say yes to our call for women’s empowerment!

AU Summit: leaders say yes to our call for women’s empowerment!

  • CARPresidentSamba-Panza
    President Catherine Samba-Panza, Central African Republic with ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE
  • MalawiPresidentMutharika
    President Peter Mutharika, Malawi, with ONE Africa Director Dr Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE
  • NigeriaPresidentBuhari
    President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria, with ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE
  • SierraLeonePresidentKoroma
    President Ernest Koroma, Sierra Leone, with ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE
  • TanzaniaPresidentKikwete
    President Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania, with ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE
  • ZambiaPresidentLungu
    President Edgar Lungu, Zambia, with ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. Photo: ONE

The African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit always presents an amazing opportunity for us at ONE to engage with presidents, ministers and heads of multi-national institutions to push our policy agenda in our fight with extreme poverty. The just-ended 25th AU Summit held in Johannesburg from 7 to 15 June was no different for us.

Going into the summit, I was clear that our ultimate goal was to seek support for our policy recommendations aimed at closing the gender gap in Africa that’s essential in lifting families and communities out of poverty. This has been the central message of our Poverty is Sexist campaign.

Before the summit, my team visited a number of African countries to hear first hand what a successful year of women’s empowerment would look like. These voices informed the focus of our policy asks to the African presidents we met during the AU Summit.

Our messages were clear: we need them to pass a strong declaration that would keep girls in school, help avoid early marriages, and that would reduce ridiculously high maternal mortality rates in Africa.

Our call for our leaders to commit to a strong women’s empowerment declaration was backed by over a million ONE members who signed our petition to demand better conditions for girls and women everywhere.

At the summit, my team and I met and briefed the following African presidents:
President Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central Africa Republic
President Peter Mutharika from Malawi
• Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
• Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete who is a long term supporter of ONE’s advocacy on the continent and in his country
• Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma and,
President Edgar Lungu of Zambia

Each of these leaders was told and convinced on the urgency of our case. They agree with us that Africa cannot fight the injustice that is extreme poverty without fighting the immense gender inequality that still persists in their countries.

And we did not labour in vain. We are delighted to share that our leaders pledged to create more opportunities for women to thrive and reach their full potential in line with our advocacy asks.

Some of the specific commitments they made at the summit include, commitments to:

• Enhance women’s contribution and benefits from formal agriculture or agro business value chains.
• Enhance women’s access to health
• Push forward women’s economic empowerment
• Enhance the agenda on Women, Peace and Security
• Enhance women’s participation in governance
• Enhance women and girls’ access to education, science, and technology
• Mutual accountability to actions and results
• Strengthen the AU Commission to support delivery on these commitments

Thank you ONE members for ensuring that girl’s and women’s issues are front and centre of Africa’s political agenda. Without your support and backing we would not have succeeded in getting our demands on the table.

The journey is not over yet; we still need your voice as we heard towards the Sustainable Development Goals negotiations in September.

If you haven’t already done so, sign our petition and stand with girls and women everywhere!

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