High note closure of Conference on Women’s Rights

The twelfth Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Conference on women’s rights ended with a high-level presentation of recommendations from discussions and debates which were held from 14 to 15 October 2019 in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Themed; “2019 the year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa,” female academics, gender and Information and Communication Technology experts and PAP Members of Parliament had discussions on promotion of women’s rights.

In his closing remarks, President of the Pan-African Parliament the Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG hailed participants and African Women for their ability to effect transformation, referring to them as “change agents.”

Presenting recommendations before the conference at a closing episode, first Deputy Chairperson of the PAP Women’s Caucus Hon. Margaret MITI expressed the conference’s desire for AU member states to put concerns of refugees, internally displaced persons and stateless persons on the agendas of the African Union Peace and Security Council, Regional Economic Communities and relevant organs.

The Conference called upon AU member states to strengthen comprehensive mediation, peace-building and conflict resolution mechanisms including the full participation of women in all the peacebuilding activities and processes, to pursue national reconciliation, to strengthen Africa’s peacekeeping and enforcement capabilities and collaboration with the United Nations system.

The AU member states were also encouraged by the Women to employ an inclusive approach and foster participation of women refugees, and internally displaced persons in all decision-making processes affecting them.

African Women have also urged member states to put in place programmes to enable women to participate actively in free trade and to opt for gender responsive policies to improve inclusiveness, ensure access to trade information services, finance, ICT and markets opportunities.

The Conference made a clarion call on Parliamentarians to monitor negotiations and impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on particularly on participation of women and finally to build capacity of women so that they can add value to commodities to increase production and supply of services.

On African Women’s Decade (2010 - 2020), member states were congratulated on ratifying Maputo Protocol and an appeal to member states that have not yet ratified to heed the call.

Member states were applauded for having passed and implemented the gender parity laws that include specific quota for women and a call for the rest of the member states to urgently heed the call.

The Conference appreciated member states who have submitted their periodic reports on Beijing for adoption by ministers in charge of gender and women’s affairs. The synthesis of the reports will constitute the Common Africa Position (CAP) to be presented at the 64th Session of the United Nations Commission on the status of Women in March 2020 in New York.

Member states and civil society organisations were encouraged to make project submissions to the African Union Commission for financing under the Fund for Africa’s Women.

The Conference recommended creation of awareness among women legislators, on the existing gaps between policy framework on women’s rights and actual realities of African women’s rights.

MPs were encouraged to advocate in their countries for internet access as a basic right, integration of ICT into school curriculum and elimination of barriers to enable young girls pursue programmes in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Conference called upon the PAP Goodwill Ambassador on Economic Development and women to mobilise the necessary financial resources from the private sector to support; domestication of the Maputo Protocol in all the African countries and the strategic communication to galvanise the work of the PAP, particularly the Women’s Caucus programmes.