Women CSOs Networking to Realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as the Women2030 project is a 5-year (2016-2020) global project supported by the European Commission and implemented by a coalition of 5 global and regional gender and women-focused organizations which WEP is a part of. The project aims to monitor the implementation of the SDGs in different regions of the world to ensure they are implemented in a gender-sensitive manner.
Africa, just like other regions of the world has made efforts towards actualizing the rights of women through the regional bodies, member states, women-led and other civil society organizations, private sector and other stakeholders. These efforts are from regional policies, plans and programmes; national plans, programmes, policies and laws; and programmes and activities of civil society organizations, women groups and other stakeholders. These actions focus on different issues affecting women ranging from poverty, education, violence, conflict, economic empowerment, environment, power and decision making among others.
2.0 REGIONAL EFFORTS
At the regional level, Africa has Agenda 2063, a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development, which the 6th of the 7 Aspirations aims to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life. The African Union also has developed a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy for the period 2018-2028. This strategy, which is expected to be implemented by the member states focuses on 4 key pillars: maximize opportunities, outcomes and e-tech dividends for women, ensure security and dignity for women, promotes leadership, voice and visibility of women, laws and policies to realize rights of women and girls. The African Union Gender Policy “…focuses on closing the equality gap between men and women in general and particularly addressing gender inequalities which have resulted in women’s disempowerments and the feminisation of poverty, in order to have a better understanding of the contribution of women in development.” African Union also had in 2003 adopted the Maputo Protocol known officially as the “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.” The Maputo Protocol aims to guarantee comprehensive rights to women including right to participate in the political process, improve autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and end female genital mutilation.
There are several regional efforts to address gender inequalities and contribute to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but gender inequ]alities persist.
3.0 NATIONAL EFFORTS
At the country levels, different countries in Africa have made different efforts of achieving gender equality and have achieved varying results. Nigeria for example in its National Beijing + 25 report highlighted some of the progress the country has made towards attainment of gender equality as follows: “… adoption of a social protection budget as part of the federal budgetary framework; the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act; the integration of gender perspectives into the national security and peace architecture and into interventions in North Eastern Nigeria; as well as targeted programmes to improve girl child participation in science and vocational education.”
Specifically, Nigeria recorded the following as some of the progress it has made from 2015-2019:
- Passage of gender related legislations such as Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, Child Rights Act 2003, Trafficking in persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003.
- Creation of gender responsive social investment programing and budget which saw the creation of Social Intervention Project (SIP) budget line that that is split between four programmes: The National Cash Transfer Programme; N – POWER; the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme (NHGSFP).
- Creation of poverty reduction, agricultural productivity and food security programs such as: Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise (LIFE), The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), and Nigeria for Women Project.
- National Gender Policy which provides a 35% minimum threshold for women’s participation in politics whether in appointive or elective positions. A Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund has been established to provide technical and other resources to female political aspirants. Women’s political empowerment offices have also been set up in each of the country’s 6 geopolitical zones for purposes of ongoing interface with and support to women politicians in the states and rural areas. The ‘100 Women Lobby Group,’ which comprises women of influence at community, state and national levels respectively was set up just after the Beijing Conference to undertake regular advocacy for women’s visibility in leadership structures across all tiers of government and this continues to function with structures in all the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory.
Ghana on the other hand reported the following progress it recorded between 2014 -2019 to realize the Beijing Platform of Action:
“Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment:
- Ghana launched the updated National Gender Policy and the Strategic Plan in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
- The Ghana National Action Plan 2018- 2022 (GHANAP II) on the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was finalized.
- Conducted a country level diagnostic survey to assess the incidence, attitude, determinants and consequences of domestic violence in Ghana.
- During the past five years, Ghana focused on Fistula repairs and family reintegration with a coverage of 575 surgeries and repairs nationwide.
- In line with SDG8, a total of about 1,062 marginalized women were trained in livelihood and pre-employment skills, which provided them with decent work, for a sustainable productive employment and economic growth.
- Ghana has been able to mobilize political commitment and action for girls and women’s empowerment with the President as the Lead Champion. Through this effort, the country has extended the campaign to all regions nationwide under the HeForShe Campaign.
- Substantial numbers of women (56%) and households have benefited from the livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty.
Mainstreaming gender into socio-economic development:
a.The gains made under this theme are as follows: a. Strengthen the Capacity of Gender Focal Persons, Planning and Desk officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming for ensuring gender-responsiveness at the local level through the Regional, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
- Finalized and received Cabinet approval for an Affirmative Action Legislation 2016
Development of Laws and Establishments of Boards:
Bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, the Aged Bill, the Foster Care and Adoption Regulations were submitted and approved by Cabinet in 2016, the change in government requires that, they are resubmitted to the new Cabinet for approval. In line with this, the Ministry undertook further consultations on the bills and regulations to reflect the broader views of the public and government priorities for women, children and the vulnerable. The current status of the bills are as follows:
-Domestic Workers Regulation in Draft with the Attorney General’s Department
-The Foster Care and Adoption Regulations are at their final stages of passage in Parliament.
- The Affirmative Action Bill has been re-submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval.
Four (4) Bills; the Aged Persons, Social Protection, Persons with Disability, and Ghana School Feeding Bills will be taken through stakeholder consultations and subsequent submission to Cabinet for approval.
Existing legal documents and policies such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Human Trafficking Act, and the Children’s Act are being translated into voice format in eleven (11) Ghanaian languages for easy access by the general public.
To ensure the achievement of the Ministry’s mandate, a number of Boards have been constituted in line with Acts of Parliament to advise and provide technical support to the Ministry. These include:
- The Ministerial Advisory Board,
The Human Trafficking Management Board,
Domestic Violence Management Board,
The Cancer Board,
Adoption Board and
The National Council on Persons with Disability Board
The Ministry developed various programmes and interventions to eradicate the Kayayei phenomenon. These are:
- A five-year Strategic Plan1 to eradicate ‘kayayei’ is being developed through the support of UNFPA.
- The Ministry has developed a Porterage Module to link women in rural communities to Government’s initiatives such as the one Village, One Dam and One District, one Factory to make them economically independent.
- Developing a strategy to mainstream gender in climate change programme.”
Liberia on the other hand reported the following achievements:
- Adoption of the Government’s development plan, Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) (2018 to 2023)
Adoption of the revised National Gender Policy (NGP), which was launched in 2017, and covers the period 2018-2022
Re-formation of the Ministry of Gender and Development to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) whose function was increased to include social welfare and social protection
The establishment of Gender Units in (10) security institutions including: Liberia National Police (LNP), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation (BCR), Ministry of National Defence (MOD), and in a few Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Ministry of Agriculture; the Governance Commission; Liberia Land Authority (LLA); and the National Housing Authority)
The Federal Republic of Togo also reported progress on the priority areas of the Beijing Platform of Action by adopting appropriate policies, plans and institutional frameworks. Certain articles of the country’s constitution were amended to promote women’s participation in elections. Similarly, the land and state code was reviewed to guarantee access to land for women in the same way as men. The reviewed criminal code of Togo incriminates violence against women. Several policies and plans have been put in place in Togo to achieve gender equality.
Like Togo, Burkina Faso also has put in place laws that prevents and penalizes violence against women and have developed a National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES) which aims to reduce gender inequalities and make women actors in development. There is also put in place a national plan to prevent and eliminate child marriage, national plan to eliminate female genital mutilation and a strategy to accelerate, the integrated programme for empowerment of women in Burkina Faso. The country also formalized 825 women’s businesses in 2017.
It is similar case in Cameroon, Tunisia and other African countries where the countries report efforts across different priority areas of the Beijing Platform of Action ranging from development of gender sensitive policies and laws, gender-responsive programmes and plans.
4.0 CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN-LED ORGANIZATIONS AND OTHER CSOs
In addition to the efforts made above by regional and national governments to realize the priority areas of the Beijing Platform of Action, women-led organizations and other civil society groups equally made tremendous contributions towards the progress of realizing the Beijing Platform of Action.
One of the coalition of gender and women-led civil society organizations known as Women2030 coalition working under the European Union’s funded project titled: “Women CSOs networking to realize the Sustainable Development Goals), has since 2016 been working to contribute to the realization of gender equality globally. The project whose aim is to ensure gender sensitive implementation of the SDGs comprise of 5 women-led civil society organizations working with other women and gender civil society organizations around the world to achieve its goal. The Women2030 coalition is led by Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) and the following as partners: Women Environmental Programme (WEP); Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and Global Forest Coalition (GFC).
The activities of the Women2030 project revolve around: capacity building, policy advocacy and media outreach.
On capacity building, the Women2030 project, has built capacity of women and gender organizations and other civil society groups as well as policy makers and legislators on understanding the SDGs and mainstreaming gender in its implementation. Capacities of these groups have been built around understanding gender equality and mainstreaming it in actions, gender sensitive assessments and data collection, media campaigns, policy advocacy, organizational and financial management among other issues. The Women2030 project through WEP had in 2016 built capacity of 10 leaders of 10 women-led organizations who became trainers that train other women organizations on the issues mentioned above. From 2016 to 2019, the Women2030 project has built capacities of over 1000 persons from 300 organizations on different issues around SDGs, gender, advocacy, data collection, organizational and financial management. These persons come from the following countries: Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Ghana, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Liberia … Through this capacity building interventions, different movements of women have been created that advocate for gender sensitive national plans and programmes. The capacity building activities equipped many people with knowledge that they previously did not have.
Rose Pélagie MASSO of African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF) from Cameroon testified how the Women2030 project has helped her as an individual and her organization. In her words:
“The activities of this project are very useful; from a personal point of view, of REFACOF as well as of beneficiary communities. As far as I am concerned, I want to thank this project because I have strengthened my capacities. Before the project, I had a very vague idea of the SDGs, I confess that I heard about Women2030 for the first time when I was invited to the train of trainers in Morocco by WEP and it is from this moment that I am really familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals that I can explain to others today with a certain ease…”
Similarly, Samuel Kyiei-Berko of Lifetime Empowerment Center (LEC) Ghana testified thus: “for the ﬁrst time, I had a better understanding on the goals.”
The Women2030 project also has succeeded in advocating and putting in place gender sensitive policies and laws in different countries to advance the realization of the priority areas of the Beijing Platform of Action. One of the Women2030 partners, Women Environmental Programme (WEP) has been instrumental for advocating for laws, policies and programmes in different African countries. WEP teamed up with other women and gender civil society organizations and pushed for the domestication of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP Act) and Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in Benue State of Nigeria and this was realized. WEP has also presented a bill on Affirmative Action for Women in Zamfara State of Nigeria to promote participation of women in politics. The advocacy action by Women2030 partners in Nigeria led by WEP also saw to the development of Gender and Climate Change Action Plan for Nigeria, a document that provides guidance on mainstreaming gender in climate change and environmental actions in Nigeria.
In Togo, Women2030 project mobilized women’s groups and facilitated their contribution to the National Development Plan of Togo (PND) launched from 2016 to 2018. Similarly, in countries like Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Cameroon and Tunisia, women groups under the Women2030 project made inputs to the countries’ development plans for incorporation of gender issues therein. The Women2030 partners in these countries participated in policy forums organized by the government or other stakeholders and in some cases organized policy fora, discussed and made recommendations to government and other stakeholders on issues affecting women.
The Women2030 partners in Africa have also influenced regional decisions on issues through position statements and engagement with policy makers at different regional programs. Women2030 partners coordinate the women’s groups to make inputs into regional SDGs and climate plans and were instrumental in the establishment of Africa Civil Society Engagement Mechanism which engages with the African Union (AU) and other regional bodies on development issues.
In addition to the above, Women2030 project partners implemented different initiatives in different African countries that contributed to the realization of the Beijing Platform of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals. These initiatives were supported through sub-grants provided by the Wome2030 project. Through one of the Women2030 partners, Women Environmental Programme (WEP), sub-grants and seed-grants were awarded to 51 women and gender civil society and community-based organizations in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Burkina Faso and Tunisia. These initiatives ranged from preventing inhumane treatment of women, promoting women’s rights to land, promoting political participation of women, promoting menstrual hygiene management, access to water and clean cooking energy, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment for women amongst other initiatives.
Highlight of some of the initiatives implemented by beneficiaries of the sub-grants and seed-grants are below:
Center for 21st Century Issues (C21st) used the Women2030 sub-grant and built capacity of policy makers and women’s CSOs and raised awareness on climate change and the UNFCCC’s Gender Action Plan (GAP) in Lagos State of Nigeria, while Echoes of Women in Africa (ECOWA) advocated for increased participation of women in politics in Lagos State and Center for Development Support Initiative (CEDSI) got school girls acquire information and communication skills in community secondary school Oginigba, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Nigeria through establishment of a computer laboratory and provision of training on ICT.
Global Women Development Promoters (GLOWDEP) used its sub-grants to implement an initiative in Schools in the Central Tongu District (Volta Region of Ghana) increasing school enrollment rate of girl child. One of the respondents gave testimony of the impact of the Women2030 project on her life thus – “Through my attachment with the Girls’ Club, I have received education in soap making and beads making. In the community, there has been a reduction in the teenage pregnancy and domestic violence cases. Most of them were engaged in them due to ignorance but now they have been educated through this project.” The project has addressed the factors encouraging teenage pregnancy among school girls in 5 schools in the Central Tonga district of Ghana increasing school enrollment rate of girl child.
Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa (GrassRootsAfrica) on the other hand sensitized communities against the use of polluting forms of energy and introduced cleaner energy sources for cooking.
Hope for Vulnerable Children (HOVUCA) in Mankon and Nsongwa in the Bamenda II Municipality of Cameroon guided women and girls on proper menstrual hygiene management, while WEP Tunisia promoted agroecology amongst school children in Tunisia.
The above initiatives are among 51 different other initiatives implemented by sub-grants and seed-grants beneficiaries of the Women2030 project across different countries of Africa.
 Federal Republic of Nigeria. National Beijing + 25 Review. Page 9