The African Union (AU)’s 26th summit began on Saturday, 30th January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme for this year is human rights with more emphasis placed on the rights of women.
The chairperson for the AU commission, Mr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said, “we must continue to place our people and their basic human rights at the center of Agenda 2063. This includes our people’s rights to education, to food, nutrition, to health, to safe water, sanitation, to jobs,”
The Director of Women, Gender and Development at the African Union Commission (AUC) also explained that it is high time Africa brought down all the barriers to gender equality.
“These include, among others, economic exclusion and financial systems that perpetuate the discrimination of women; limited participation in political and public life; lack of access to education and retention of girls in schools; gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices, and exclusion of women from peace tables either as lead mediators or part of negotiating teams of conflicting parties,” she said.
She pointed out that as Africa’s growth continues to expand, women make enormous contributions to the economies, although they are usually, sidelined, exploited and subject to poverty and discrimination.
“For example, women continue to have less access to education than men; they have less employment and advancement opportunities; their role and contribution to national and continental development processes are not always recognized nor fully rewarded; and they continue to be conspicuously absent from crucial decision-making positions,” she explained.
The African union does have certain protocols and laws embodied in its constitution that support gender equality and the rights of women. However, human rights in Africa is something to be ashamed of. With most African states experiencing internal conflicts, human right violations are becoming very rampant, especially among women who are more susceptible to rape, violence and all kinds of abuse.
We therefore urge our leaders to do more than draft laws. More practical schemes and ideas should be set up to ensure that this agenda wouldn’t just be another protocol but one that would yield results.