Today WILPF Africa joins the continent and the rest of the world in celebrating Pan African Women’s Day. Sixty years ago, on 31 July 1962, African women from all walks of life came together to call for the formation of the Pan-African Women’s Organization (PAWO). Since then, as African women, we celebrate Pan-African Women’s Day on 31 July to honour the sacrifices and the hard work of our foremothers, who are the titans of gender equality. PAWO celebrated its diamond jubilee this year, and the African Union Commission dedicated the entire July as Africa Women’s month to honour this important milestone. PAWO implemented the Africa women’s decade 2010-2020 on “Grassroots Approaches to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE).” PAWO, in partnership with many Women’s Rights organisations in the Continent, advocated for the adoption of the African Women’s Decade and members of PAWO at the national level supported the implementation of ten thematic areas of the Decade. We celebrate the evidence-based and practical initiatives by PAWO on the continent and it is important that in the future we tap from their wisdom for us to continue with the great work that is being done.
As we celebrate African women’s movements, we acknowledge the great strides that the continent has taken towards ensuring gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights. AU Agenda 2063 was unanimously adopted in 2013, and it places gender equality at the centre of development goals. This month (July) AUC and PAWO convened month-long commemorative events under the theme: “Africa Women’s Day – Towards Advancing Women’s Human Capital for inclusive sustainable development: Addressing the scourge of violence, while enhancing food security and good nutrition in Africa.” These themes are a true reflection of the challenges and struggles of most African women. The majority of women from rural areas, and marginalised communities are affected by structural factors that hinder their meaningful participation in economic and political sectors, which further widens the inequality gaps in this age, where we are calling for gender equality. This should push all of us to ensure we address these struggles.
Food insecurity is a major challenge in most African households, women bear the brunt of this challenge because they are the sole providers of food. Women from rural areas are being affected by the climate crisis, while those in most urban centres are affected by the economic policies that do not put into consideration the informal sector. Therefore, it is important that the issues of financial and economic justice for African women are addressed. Violence against women and girls, which surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, is also a cancer that needs to be addressed. Let’s cultivate positive masculinity in leadership because women lag behind men in human capital and related indicators. The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined human capital accumulation and progress on the gender equality front.
WILPF Africa recommends the following interventions:
- Implementation of economic and social policies that support women’s economic empowerment
- Increased opportunities for women’s voices
- Creation of enabling environments for women to exercise leadership and decision-making
- Strengthening the role of the private sector in the economic empowerment of women
We wish all African women a happy Pan African Women’s Day!