Ethiopia: Women decry marginal gains in economic empowerment since Beijing

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - At a meeting to review two decades of progress since the launch of the Beijing Plan of Action, women have decried the marginal gains in ensuring equal participation of women in economic activity.

Dina Musindarwezo, Executive Director of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), told PANA that efforts to mobilize women to apply their voices on public policy were successful but gains were minimal.

“There are still areas of concern especially on issues of women and the economy. There are no equal opportunities for women and the economy and the equal opportunities in descent employment,” Musindarwezo said Monday.

Women’s rights organizations held a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 14-16 November to discuss how to make African governments to respect and implement national, regional and international laws and policies that advance women’s rights.

The Civil Society Review Meeting on Beijing plus 20, looking at the progress made in empowering women since the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995, discussed the status of implementing the goals reached at the meeting and other action plans.

“It is clear we have registered achievements but women are still not part of the economic policy. The African economies are rising with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing but this is not reducing the gender inequalities,” Musindarwezo told PANA.

“The economies are rising and women are contributing to the growth of these economies but these economies are not contributing to the growth of the women because women’s contribution is mostly in the form of unpaid work at the household,” the FEMNET official said.

The current series of meeting, including an expert meeting which kicked off in Addis Ababa Monday, are pursuing the implementation of the gender equality on universal human rights standards agreed upon at the UN.

The Civil Society Organizations discussing the progress made in the field of women's and girl’s rights 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, regretted the growing expenditure on security and less investments by governments on social issues.

“This meeting is saying the economy must start to contribute to the empowerment of women. Africa is spending so much in militarization while the women are being raped and used as weapons of war,” the FEMNET official said.

FEMNET warns that despite pledges by governments to increase expenditure on women and gender, only foreign donors were currently financing issues dealing with women rights and empowerment, including access to HIV/AIDS drugs.

In Africa, most people on the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs are financed by foreign governments, mostly the US Presidential Aids Initiative (PEPFRA).

“The budget allocations to health ministries and other ministries whose work impact on women the most are very minimal and dependent on foreign donors. The HIV/AIDS funding is especially affected by aid cuts,” Musindarwezo said.

At the conference, delegates said most of the gains made in Women's and Girls' rights since the holding of the Beijing conference have come under various threats and are facing persistent challenges, notably from widening inequalities between the rich and poor.

The women complained that most governments now offer priorities economic policies that are driving growth but failing to address development and respect for human rights.

"HIV, maternal mortality and morbidity continue to be amongst leading causes of death for women; the rising radical and extremist groups pose threats to the safety, security and advancement of women and girls as indicated by on-going abductions of girls shrinking space and; resources for civil society; and macroeconomic policies that perpetuate inequalities," said Musindarwezo said.  

“The government’s commitment to inclusive financing is not real and there are no good policies to continue including women in decision-making roles, that is why we want to contribute our views so that they can be addressed by the governments,” the FEMNET official added.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 17Nov2014

17 november 2014 14:43:53




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