|GAMCOTRAP Celebrates IWD 2011|
|Sunday, 11 March 2012 23:03|
GAMCOTRAP Celebrates International Women’s Day and
Reporting on Beyond Beijing +15: Implementation and Resourcing the African Women’s Decade (2010- 2020)
The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) in partnership with NETRIGHT, AAWORD and UNIFEM has hosted a regional meeting for West Africa, to share information on the African Women’s Decade (2010- 2020) and the Beijing +15 Review which is the baseline for the Africa Women’s Decade. The meeting was also meant to strategize in financial terms for the Women’s Decade. The objective of the workshop was to:
Participants to the West Africa Regional meeting were drawn from 13 countries from West Africa. They are Burkina Faso, Cote D’ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, amongst others. Also regional institutions like ECOWAS and key partners such as the African Union Commission Gender Directorate participated in the process. Participants were carefully selected and drawn from national gender machineries and civil society organisations working on women’s rights. It is expected that participants who participated at the regional workshop for the Africa Women’s Decade 2010- 2020 will ensure that upon return they can implement the action plans and mobilize a larger constituency around the goals of Africa Women’s Decade 2010- 2020. Two Gambian women’s rights organisations were invited to this regional workshop namely GAMCOTRAP, which was represented by the Executive Director Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Sagar Jahateh represented the Female Lawyers Association of the Gambia (FLAG). The workshop came out with a declaration and press release. (Please refer to www.netright) for both documents. The first of such meeting took place in May 2010 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for Central Africa. The second meeting took place in June 2010 in Dar-Es- Salaam, Tanzania for the East and North of Africa. The third meeting was held from 28th -30th September 2010 in Accra, Ghana for the West Africa region.
What is the African Women’s Decade 2010- 2020?
The focus of the 2010 CSW 54th session, held from March 1st – 12th, 2010 in New York, was the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, 15 years after the adaption of the Fourth World Conference on Women. The outcomes of these reviews formed the basis of the critical areas of concern for the Africa Women’s Decade 2010- 2020. The year 2010 also marks the onset of the Africa Women’s Decade (2010- 2020) as declared by African Heads of States and Governments at the 12th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union held in February 2009 (Decision on the Africa Women’s Decade – Assembly/AW/Dec 229 (XII))
Also, the African Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs at their meeting held in Banjul, the Gambia in November 2009, also resolved that the reports from the Beijing +15 Review process will form the baseline information for the West Africa Women’s Decade for governments. In partnership with the State, civil society organisations should focus on pushing the agenda for achieving the decade’s goal in the twelve critical areas of concern. For your information the following areas of concern are:
Most of the Civil Society Organisations work in one or more of these broad areas. It is important to have a clear vision, identify our needs on the ground and make sure that we are moving towards a strategic direction to achieve the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The State is the primary duty bearers for advancing and promoting gender equality. It is generally observed that the gender machineries/ministry of Women’s Affairs are generally woefully under- resourced (NETRIGHT 2010). Yet the UNIFEM 2008 progress report on world’s women have noted that government budget in most countries are not adequate to respond to the needs of women. This may be looked at from two perspectives, firstly, governments who believe in gender equality and respect the commitments they made might in their budget estimates provide substantial allocation to women’s rights programming. Secondly, the UN system under its bi-lateral agreement with the State receives large amounts of funding and technical support.
Therefore it is observed that we need to ensure that our governments pay greater attention to women’s interests in the development of their annual budgets. With all the plans and commitments on paper or blueprints, these plans will not be fulfilled if adequate resources are not allocated to gender machineries and ministries of Women’s Affairs. The Millennium Development Goal cannot be attained with business as usual. There is a need to have a proper gender budget to achieve them. The pledges that were made to meet the target where not fulfilled.
It is as a result of these gaps, financial, technical and human that over the last five years that the UN member States and Civil Society Organisations agreed that the current structure need to be in place to further the advancement of women’s rights. While the political will may be expressed, there is need to have a clear vision of how to achieve gender equality by getting the institutions right. The UN Women is a ray of hope resource should be available to this body to address the concerns of 50% of the World’s Population.
United Nation Women Is Born!
Finally, on July 2, 2010, after years of advocacy by Civil Society Organisations, Women’s Rights Activists, Institutions, the United Nation Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women also known as UN Women was officially created by the General Assembly.
The new entity combines the mandates of the four existing United Nation structures for women into one new, higher level UN organisation with both policy and operational functions. The Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, a network of over 300 women’s human rights and social justice groups, is now engaged in working to ensure that UN Women will be a coordinated, strong and strategic organisation that further advances the UN’s work on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Some organisations are already engaged with the UN transition process at the national and regional levels, and the GEAR campaign encourages more actors in civil society to get involved in helping UN women realize its potential as a powerful vehicle for women’s rights on the ground.
Steps for Civil Society Engagement, Going Forward
1. Establish Meaningful, Systematic, and Diverse Civil Society Participation
2. 2. Demand A Dynamic and Relevant Agenda For UN Women
The creation of UN Women provides an opportunity for civil society to offer insights and make the UN’s work on women’s rights and gender equality more effective. The new entity begins with the mandates and work of UNIFEM, DAW, OSAGI, and INSTRAW, but if it is to become more than the sum of its parts, it must go further. Civil Society Organisations working on various issues such as violence against women, economic and political empowerment, land, housing, and other human rights, including sexual and reproduction rights, can analyze and suggest how UN Women can improve the work of the UN both through its own programming and in coordinating with the larger UN system. Funding priorities and partnership must reach grassroots women as well as NGOs.
In some places, NGOs are already working closely with UN agencies like UNIFEM, UNFPA or with other UN country teams and can build upon those relations in discussing the agenda for UN Women, while in other countries, civil society still needs to foster these linkages. While UN Women present a new opportunity, there are many forms of previous civil society engagements that can be built upon. Resources like NGO shadow reports to the CEDAW or other Human Rights Treaty Body Committees, information on implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action or Plans for Security Council Resolutions 1325/1880, regional declarations on women’s rights such as the AU Protocol on women’s rights, reports from UN special Rapporteurs, SODGEA etc could all be utilized in shaping UN Women’s agenda moving forward.
3. 3. Pressure Donors to Aim For $1 Billion In Funding And Meet Their Commitment To ‘’Core Funding, Multi-Year, Predictable, Stable And Sustainable’’ Contributions
For UN Women to have a significant global impact, it must have the financial resources that UNIFEM, OSAGI, INSTRAW and DAW consistently lacked. Like UNICEF, UNFPA, and other UN agencies, UN Women’s resources will come primarily from Member States’ voluntary contributions. The founding resolution for UN Women gives member States a responsibility to make their contributions predictable and multi-year to best support the viability of its work. Civil society groups should continue or initiate dialogue with governments about setting funding goals for UN Women and demand that targets are met. NGOs across the world can mobilize and advocate that governments prioritize the needs of women by contributing to UN Women. Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot be done on the cheap; governments must keep their promises to women. This can be achieved by encouraging government and civil society dialogue based on trust and commitment to advance a common goal of achieving gender equality.
4. Seek Powerful, Capable and Effective Leadership at Every Level
UN Women will largely be defined by its leadership which will have the opportunity to create an innovative and powerful entity. On September 14, 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon announced the appointment of former President of Chile, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, as the new Under- Secretary General for UN Women. This news was greeted with much celebration by women’s organisations around the world, as Ms. Bachelet is known to be of great integrity, and has demonstrated strong commitment to women’s empowerment and the ability to shape gender equality policies in a variety of areas. She would require all the support to mobilize the resources crucial to make UN Women a success.
The GEAR Campaign has developed criteria and questions for realizing this goal and is eager to engage in dialogue with her regarding her vision for UN Women. As the new entity is being developed, civil society calls on Ms. Bachelet to share her plans with them to ensure meaningful participation of grassroots women’s organisations and international groups.
The governing board of UN Women, made up of elected representatives of Member- States have been chosen. Civil society should also advocate for effective leaders at the regional and country levels who will have considerable influence over activities on-the- ground and the opportunity to develop innovative agendas for UN Women.
The global women’s movement has more opportunity to participate in building a new UN agency with the capacity to lead the UN in helping to improve the daily conditions of women and girls. Un Women must become at all levels a strong link between women and the institutions we seek to change. GEAR calls on all civil society groups who support gender equality and women’s empowerment to help shape UN Women to play a critical role in the 21st Century global women’s movement. For more information visit http://www.gearcampaign.org/or contact advocacy at femnet.or.ke
I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all the women and ‘men who care’ for the efforts made to promote women’s human rights and ensuring that the mechanism has come to be.
The Current Situation in the Gambia
It must be realised that the government is the primary duty bearer and CSO, NGOs and the Private Sector compliment its efforts to advance development. This can be achieved financially, technically or contributing towards the activities geared towards the realisation of the goal set for development. There is a need to take heed on some of the emerging issues affecting the Women’s Rights Movement in the Gambia. We need a platform to dialogue and exchange views in the best interest of the Gambia and its people. The Women’s Rights Movement deserves attention like all other organisations, institutions and entities that have access to His Excellency the President of the Republic Gambia to share their work and to appraise him about their work. This way The Gambia will maximise its gains by the unity of purpose to advance the cause of women despite our diversity.
A constructive engagement of Women’s Rights organizations working with the government is necessary to realise the desired outcomes needed to advance development. Women’s Rights Activists need not be seen as anti government and should be given the chance to explain there perspectives of engagement within the development process, to avert misinformation and resultant violation of their rights. This is a cause for concern and needs to be addressed. What women’s rights organisations are doing is towards supporting the States commitment to advance the cause of women by working with the relevant government institutions.
As patriotic citizens of the Gambia complementing government’s policies and efforts regarding the advancement of women and children of the Gambia, we hoped to have the privilege to meet His Excellency the President. Our numerous requests to be given that privilege have failed.
While there is a lot to celebrate in the One hundred Years of the Women’s Right Movement globally, it must be placed in a trajectory and context. Whiles we celebrate these successes we owe it to our predecessors in the first half of the century who laid the foundation for the second half of the century for the Activists to engage. GAMCOTRAP celebrate all the Women and ‘men who care’. We are not reinventing the wheel but building upon the successes and looking at the challenges within these years in order to come up with a better vision of promoting Women’s Human Rights in our various contexts. We hope that the opportunity that the UN Women offers will pull together the diversity, commonalities and the differences to move the agenda for women and development. We need a Gambia Feminist Forum to share our visions and common agenda for Gambia Women.
GAMCOTRAP hopes to engage constructively with the UN Women in a very positive and progressive way taking into cognisance that our role is to complement the government efforts as the primary duty bearer and as secondary duty bearer we have something to offer to our country. I hope a mechanism will be put in place that will transcend partisan politics but move towards a politics that will be all inclusive in directing the development process that advances the cause of Women of the Gambia. The Gambia is a beautiful country and the people are peaceful and willing to push development for themselves irrespective of their various contexts, a quality that many countries admire about the Gambia. The diversity should be valued and nurtured.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of the Gambia for having the right policy environment to engage in promoting Women’s Rights and development. We have noted that formal Equality is towards the right direction as most of the International, Regional and National Conventions have been ratified with a few to follow sooner or later. Our audit of the current situation regarding Women’s Rights has revealed that Gambia will attain the goal of gender equality and development if the institutions are right and given the right resources to engage constructively. It is also a precondition to take to bring in their agency in development issues. The only way to achieve this is to allow for constructive criticisms and the willingness to accept that no institution can do it alone. Non-State Actors have a role to play and do also have some technical expertise to contribute in an environment that is not bedevilled with acrimony and persecution. It is high time to go beyond our individual interests and pursue the lofty goal of the people we profess to empower.
The Women who are taking leadership of the gender debates and who are privileged to be exposed by virtue of their education and privilege positions owe it to the masses of women who are professed to be poor, powerless and voiceless. How are we going to go beyond our ivory towers and comfort zones to empower these women and end inequalities, discrimination, and suppression? Rural women deserve a better deal in all this and we must be sincere to see that they are not left behind or seen as ‘add ons’ when we want to project our individual agendas. These are people who want to improve their lot when they have the right environment and opportunity to do so. We must facilitate this process for them. There are various ways and directions to putting our energies in contributing to national development and promoting the interest of the subalterns. Whichever way we chose the ultimate goal is to facilitate the advancement of this critical mass of people we all set out to target.
The technocrats and Femocrats it is time to move from having gender and women’s empowerment as development phrases to putting the concepts in practice. A decade may seem a long way to go but just reflect on when it was Beijing 95. We should change our attitude to dealing with women’s issues as ‘go slow’ and address the issues.
To the Donor Community, our audit has shown that there is abundant goodwill manifested in supporting women’s rights work both at governmental and civil society levels. However, there is need to build on the potentials at both levels by increasing the funding support to attain more substantial results towards the empowerment of women of the Gambia. Institutional capacity building is important for effective management of the resources geared towards the empowerment of women.
The International and Diplomatic Community are working towards the right direction by taking on a dual approach to advance the cause of women through their support to the Government as well as Women’s Rights NGOS and CSOs. Indeed development is multi-facetted.
GAMCOTRAP wishes to celebrate International Women’s Day through sober reflections and hope that we shall all ponder over the issues raised in this document as we celebrate and enter the next Women’s Decade.
This report was initially meant to share the outcome of the Regional meeting on UN Women’s Decade which Dr. Touray attended in Ghana and five days after returning from the field to train Community Based Facilitators to engage in the advocacy to end FGM at the community level. The writing started on the 11th October 2010, when Dr. Touray and her colleague Amie Bojang-Sissoho spent the night at the Banjul Police cell after they have been denied bail on an allegation of theft. International Women’s Day 2011 is an opportunity to share these thoughts.
We salute all those who have in various ways continued to support the empowerment and advancement of Gambian Women and Children.
Date: 8th March 2011
|Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 11:23|