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The reality transformation of the African Women since World Conference


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In 1975, in the context of the First Women World Conference held in Mexico, the former African Women Centre, now African Centre for the Development and Gender was created.

This centre is the regional structure that looks after the gender matters and the women advances in African within the United Nations System. Its work consists in: influence in the policies to encourage more women contribution to development in order to promote a women’s net to interchange information and increase its influence capacity and follow the progress made.

The International Treaties impelled by United Nations have been very important to the development of the African women. The Third Women World Conference held in Nairobi in 1985 made possible for women of the South Hemisphere to raise ther voices within the international agenda.

In Dr. Jacinta Muteshi’s words, from de Kenya National Commission for the Development and Gender, this meant that “for the very first time the African women could say: we can and we will talk about international affaires and we had been able to show how this matters affect us.”

In 2004 in Ethiopia, and within the development of the seventh African regional conference on women, a process of revision of the degree of fulfilment of the objectives marked by the Platform of Beijing begins. In this encounter, the participants of Ethiopia, made special emphasis in the reached profits, and the importance that have in Africa the nongovernmental organizations. The political participation and the education were recognized in this one Forum as the areas in which it had been registered most of the progresses.

Considering this information, we are going to be centred a little bit more in depth in these two areas of so vital importance for the development of the women

We have said many times that the participation of the women in the places of decision making was an important objective in all the international conferences, but specially of the Platform of Action of Beijing. Therefore, this process of incorporation of the women to the political activity in Africa has been as Gertrude Mongella said, president of the Pan African Parliament, “a revolution that does not have a reverse gear”

The data of participation of the women in the national parliaments shows us this since in the region of sub-Sahara Africa, the women have happened to be a 10 percent in 1997, to a 17 percent in 2006.

In 2005 Ellen Jonson Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia and in Mozambique the Prime Minister is Luisa Diogo. It is true these are only a few, almost anecdotal examples, but very important, for they are the first symptoms of the change towards the equality of sort also in Africa.

The alliances between the women who have these positions of responsibility and the organizations of women are of vital importance for the advance. Let us see some examples: In Rwanda, thanks to the roll of the parliamentary women, a law was approved to fortify the rights of the woman. This new law established that for the first time women could inherit land.

Also in Rwanda, the parliamentary women increased the budget assigned to the health and to the education and these women associated in the Forum of Parliamentary Women, in 2006 they were able to elaborate a law project to fight the gender violence.

Similar processes have happened in South Africa, in support of a law against the domestic violence that makes special emphasis in boys and girls, or Namibia, where the legislating women promoted laws related to the domestic and sexual violence.

Political parties and the groups of women are fundamental to impel the participation of the woman in all the fields of the social and political life. In Mozambique, the campaign organized by several local groups of women against child marriage contributed to the approval of a law that elevated the legal age of the marriage for the women.

But the participation of the women in politics is not only important for the changes that take place immediately, as their influence in the legislative changes, but also because serve as example for other women and other generations. Women who are in positions of decision making, are contributing to change the male chauvinist and discriminatory attitudes towards women, and with their participation, are falling the sexist stereotypes that exclude the women of the whole participation in the social, political and work life.

Therefore to increase the participation of the women in the policy, the promotion of the equality between women and men is fundamental for the promotion of equity among men and women.

Closely related to the participation of the women in the policy and the places of decision making, is the necessity to increase the education of the women. Let us see some data to illustrate it; in a survey made by the Interparlamentary Union in 1999, it was that of the 187 polled women, 73 percent had university studies, and 14 percent had a degree. It seems possible to affirm that when it is denied the access to education to a girl, more than the knowledge that can acquire is refused, but there are closing the doors for her to a better world, to a world in equality where she can be active part of the development.

The education of the girls have increased in an spectacular way in many parts of the world, although the educative equality between girls and boys in the primary education has still not been achieved, and according to the analyses of United Nations, it will not be reached until 2015. The are many initiatives and a lot of Governments that are betting for the education of girls, following the mandate of United Nations

The Forum for African Teachers (FAWE), placed in Kenya, is a nongovernmental organization composed by ministers and people of the world of education of different countries from sub-Sahara Africa. This organization works in collaboration with governments, international organisms, and communities etc, to promote the equality of gender in the education. FAWE has published a guide to include the impact of gender in the national plans of education and to evaluate them from this perspective.

In 2004 a Unit of Sort and Civil Society it is created within the New Alliance for Development (NEPAD), in charge of incorporating the gender perspective and promotes the equality between women and men. A year later, in 2005, with the objective to promote the roll of women in the social and economic development promoting its participation in the political processes, a Work group of Gender is created, within the same organization.

The work is done in Network in Africa, with the collaboration of governments, international organisms, associations and communities. We may see some examples: in Gambia, they have created centres for mothers, a place where it successfully obtains economic aid and reverts in the education of the children. In fact, the rates of educational registration of the children in this country have increased over 34%, and simultaneously the abandonments by premature marriages have been diminished.

These centres give the mothers new sources of income, and at the same time they contribute to heighten the roll of the women helping them to realize the gender discrimination they are suffering and promoting their participation in the decision making of their own community.

Similar initiatives have been set up in different sub-Sahara Africa regions, within the campaign for the Feminine Education, promoted by UNICEF and FAWE, and try to get to the countryside areas of Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

I would like to emphasize the importance of the change of the women in Africa, the strategies of female cooperation that have been settled down among women. The African Women have extended their structures of participation and there are very numerous associations of women specially in sub-Sahara Africa. Some examples of these associations are: the Senegalese’s groupings “Yewwu Yewwi (for the liberation of the women), the Development and Communications network of African Women (FEMMET), the regional grouping of Women for the Law and the Development in Africa (WILDAF) or the Federation of African Women in the Media (FAMW), and APC Africa Woman, a network of organizations and people who work for the participation of women in New Technologies.

In 2005 th Protocol to the African Letter of Human Rights and People, received his 15ª ratification, and took effect at the end of that year. This protocol creates new rights for the African women in terms of international rules. Those countries that have ratified the protocol up to 2006 are Benin, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Gambia, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Togo.

This document impel country members to apply the Convention on the elimination of all the forms of discrimination against the women, thus like the application of the Beijing Platform of Action of for the promotion and guidance of the rights of the women.

The Protocol recognizes and guarantees an ample range of civil and political rights of women, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Among them appear the right to life, the integrity and security of the person; the protection against harmful traditional practices; the prohibition of the discrimination, and the protection of women in armed conflicts.

It also guarantees to all women will have the right to be respected like person and to the whole development of her personality; the access to justice and equality of protection before the law, and the participation in the political processes and of decision making. In addition, it assures the right to health and the reproductive rights of women; the right to security of foods, and the right to a suitable house.