ACORD launches report 'African Women & Girls - Their Say on their World post 2015'
Women's voices from citizen-driven workshops on the post-2015 framework held in 13 African countries
"An Africa that is accountable upholds and respects the rights of people regardless of their background. A continent with less maternal and infant mortality, quality and free education and positive sustainable developments" (Participant from Marsabit, Kenya)
As the MDGs come to an end and negotiations for a new development framework progress, a firm shift in development models is needed. This must go beyond thinking of women's vulnerability and instead focus on women's contribution to African economic and social transformation. ACORD's vision for social justice and ending poverty has at its heart the understanding that people are the primary actors in their own survival and development, and that we must work alongside communities in our work. We focus on strengthening people's capacity to participate and exert influence over governance and decision-making processes to address the root causes of exclusion and injustice. Our work is based on citizen-driven change.
When it comes to influencing policy, we place a strong emphasis on facilitating the participation of grassroots groups and community-based organisations and citizens to participate through capacity building and advocating for inclusive decision-making processes. Through participatory processes and consultation, we frame our own inputs into decision-making in the perspectives and views of the communities we work with.
Our engagement in the post-2015 process has been governed by this ethic. For ACORD, it is vital that any framework, which speaks on issues of poverty and sustainable development, must be informed by those who experience them on a daily basis. This is particularly true of the communities we work with, who are predominantly rural and politically, economically, socially and geographically marginalised, and are amongst the poorest in their respective countries. These are exactly the groups that are the most excluded from policy processes. Among these groups, women represent one of the most vulnerable, because of their position in the society. Gender equality is an important dimension of the advocacy work of ACORD, and the voices of women form a crucial part of the voices that ACORD wants to bring to the international arena.
"Here in Niono, women in general and especially the displaced have very limited access to land and credit to conduct agriculture. With land, we either rent or husbands rent it for us. In addition to that, it takes money to pay rent and buy labour and inputs, so that the need for financing structures for us becomes very crucial because we are always the first to be requested by the family, our children and even the community for any need whatsoever."
(Hanta Coulibaly, Nio, Mali)
ACORD held 45 citizen-driven workshops in 13 different countries across the continent. In six of these countries ACORD held workshops specifically targeting women's issues and concerns. The idea was to harness the power of the African citizen - to privilege their position as agents in their own development. The workshops triggered debate and discussion in some of the most remote and marginalised communities in Africa today, with citizens reflecting on the challenges they faced, and their ideas for how they want to see change take place. The findings of the consultations have been captured in a flagship report of the post 2015 process, entitled ‘The Africa we want: Responsive states, empowered citizens', which will be available in the near future.
"In households of married couples old traditions and cultures and values predominate. It is men who make the decisions on income-generating activities, marketing production and even the allocation of revenue. They control everything! They don't e even allow you to sell the flock without any prior consultation." (Annonciata Mukakunsi, Rwanda)
"Africa women and girls - their say on their world post 2015" is a representation of African women's voices from the grassroots. While ACORD has represented these voices faithfully, it is recognised that Africa is not homogenous and these voices do not represent the entirety of African Women's voices or indeed the entirety of the interviewed women's views and perspectives on gender equality in post 2015. In the discussions with grassroots women, they consistently recognised that achievements of the last 15 years of the MDGs, in particular the great strides made in women's participation in leadership and in the legal and policy changes in favour of gender equality and women's empowerment across the continent. This report has attempted to give voice to grassroots women in the complex political and consensus building process that will result in the post 2015 development framework. In doing this ACORD aims to ensure that women's contribution form the basis of the recommendations and resolutions that will adopted on gender equality and women's empowerment.
The findings in the report have been summarised from both the general citizen workshops as well as the women specific workshops. In analysing women's voices, ACORD identified issues in five key thematic areas:
• Violence against women and girls.
• Access to and control over resources, including land, energy and information technology.
• Access to basic services with an emphasis on reproductive and sexual health services.
• Women`s Citizenship and leadership
• Recognition, redistribution and remuneration of women's unpaid care work.
The report situates its analysis in the experiences and perspectives of African women and girls, using their own words to illustrate the issues that a new development framework must confront.
"Women and girls need equality instead of dominance and suppression. They want to exercise their rights without any domination. The problem they face is traditional influence. Their husbands prevent them [from going to] market. There is household violence. Husbands want to be asked for permission. They cannot go to school without a husband's permission. In our beliefs, women are treated as children. They can't go far alone unless accompanied by adult. They are not allowed to attend meetings."
(Miyo Sodo Sore, 30, Male, Pastoralist, father of one son and one daughter, Borana, Ethiopia)
This landmark report was launched at the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, on 17th March 2014, during a joint-event between ACORD, UN Women and World YWCA, in the presence of Hon. Mary Clara Makungwa, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Republic of Malawi; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General; Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director and Under-Secretary General; Kgothatso Elisa Mokoena, of the World YWCA; and the ACORD delegation (Ousainou Ngum, Executive Director; Salina Sanou, Head of Policy and Advocacy; and Emmah Nungari, ACORD Kenya Country Director), as well as participants and discussants from civil society, the donor community, government officials, the private sector, UN agencies...
The report is available in English and will be available in French version soon (coming soon on this website). ACORD greatly appreciates the financial support from the Dutch Government's FLOW programme towards the collection, documentation, analysis and publication of African women's voices in this report.