AU Launches African Women’s Decade Project To Improve Health, Development

Delegates from around the world attended the launch of the African Women’s Decade, 2010-2020, (AWD) at an event in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation reports (10/15).

According to an African Union press release, the AWD will address 10 different areas: “fighting poverty and promoting economic empowerment of women entrepreneurship; agriculture and food security; health, maternal mortality and HIV and AIDS; education, science and technology; environment, climate change and sustainable development; peace, security and violence against women and girls; governance and legal protection; finance and gender budgeting; women and decision making and mentoring youth.” The themes were “carefully thought out” and in keeping with other development initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as “regional commitments,” according to Jean Ping, chair of the African Union Commission. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and AU Chairperson Bingu wa Mutharika also spoke at the launch, according to the release (10/18).

The AWD follows “last year’s decision by the AU Heads of States to declare year 2010 – 2020 a decade of African women,” a BuaNews press release notes. According to the release, women’s affairs ministers from across Africa “have called for 1 percent of the African Union’s membership fees to be put towards empowering women on the continent.” The ministers say the money could be used to establish an empowerment fund for women to support AWD projects (10/18).  

After highlighting some of Kenya’s accomplishments, “Kibaki urged governments in the continent to also focus their attention on implementation of various laws, programmes and policies that would enable women and girls to realize their full potential and guarantee dignified lives,” KBC writes. Kibaki addressed several topics in his remarks, including education and discrimination against women (10/15). In his speech, AU Chair Mutharika “called on African governments to assist women [to] access capital, entrepreneurial skills and land for agriculture. ‘It is the right of women to own land without any discrimination,’ Mr. Mutharika said,” Daily Nation/ reports.

AU Commission Chair Ping “said the African Union would develop 53 projects on the continent annually to benefit women in next 10 years,” the publication writes (Barasa, 10/15). Ping added the AWD’s political leadership “will be provided by a ministerial committee consisting of ten ministers drawn from all the five regions of Africa,” according to the AU press release. Ping noted that a committee established to deal with the AWD met in July. AU states have been asked to create national committees to identify grassroots projects for the AWD that will be supported by the Fund for African Women. “Member states have already committed to contribute to the fund as agreed upon at the February 2010 AU Assembly meeting. Through the fund, the AU will support women’s projects around the continent,” the press release states (10/18).

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