Ethiopia: Ministers discuss Beijing 20 amid five-fold rise in gender violence

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African ministers of gender met here Wednesday to review the progress in achieving the broad goals set in 1995 in Beijing to improve the welfare of women, amid a surprising rise in gender violence against women.

“When it comes to incidences of violence, we cannot afford to be defensive. It is a tragedy,” Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said at the meeting here.

The Regional ministerial Conference to review the broad goals set in Beijing 20 years ago (Beijing 20) to discuss whether women were making progress in achieving gender equality, is meant to prepare a new set of goals for future talks.

Lopes said ECA studies show violence against women was on the rise up to five-fold in African countries leading to between 1-12% drops in economic prosperity.

“The monthly cost of violence against women is 20 times that of an average medical expenditure for a household,” Lopes said.

The UN official said failure to fill the gender gaps in the labour markets was leading to a huge gap in the economic differences amongst countries.

Lopes said recent studies proved that reducing the gender gap by 1% alone could help prevent an economic loss equivalent to US$60 billion.

Wage disparities between women and men remain extremely high. In some African countries, women earn less than 60% of what men earn for similar jobs.

Women are not part of the key economic activity and currently own 25% of the land, which the UN official said limits their ability to make key decisions.

Lopes decried the little progress made in securing women’s rights and equality on most areas of development.

“We cannot build dynamic African countries, if women and girls who form the majority of the population, remain marginalized or excluded. We still have a long way to go. Africa can and must do better,” Lopes told the ministerial meeting.

The UN official said in countries where the Beijing promises had been turned into action, more girls were going to school, increasing school enrolment and reducing the gender differences.

Lopes noted that secondary school education gaps were being reduced in Southern African countries and almost the same number of girls as boys, were in school in Malawi.

The reduced gender gaps in health also led to 47% drop the rate of mortality in Africa, from 1990 to 2013, although mortality rates still remain high.

Progress achieving the equality in education remained more of a dream with figures showing only 12 out of 43 African countries achieved equality in schools.

The UN is proposing radical measures to deal with the inequality in school enrolment through urgent reduction early marriages and improved education quality.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 19Nov2014

19 november 2014 15:10:50

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