Structural, Attitudinal Barriers Must Be Addressed To Achieve Gender Parity In Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation: International Women’s Day: a chance to reflect on achievements and barriers to gender equality in Africa
Toyin Saraki, founder and president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“…Although the general continental trend [in Africa] in recent years has been towards gender parity, there remain vast structural and attitudinal barriers that must be addressed. … Despite some clear shortcomings, vast legislative improvements have been made throughout the continent. What is more pressing, and more challenging to overcome, is the system of archaic practices and beliefs that override legal structures to consolidate a woman’s status in society as second class. … [R]eproductive rights are denied in various forms across various countries, stripping women of decisions over their own bodies. Better health safeguards must be put in place to ensure that young girls can give birth in clean and safe conditions, and have access to family planning and contraception. … The absence of government funding in sectors that affect women, particularly maternal health, is dangerous and also perpetuates gender divisions around the world. … I am a gender parity optimist, and firmly believe that global gender parity can and will be achieved within the lifetime of my children. But measures in place, although effective, are insufficient on their own. Women must be treated as equals for society to progress — the barriers to equality must be addressed…” (3/8).