In her opening remarks at the 26th AU Summit GIMAC Pre-Consultative meeting in session in Johannesburg today, Dr Thelma Awori described the GIMAC as a highly political African channel that we women must use to make sure that our voices are heard by our heads of states to change the course for women’s rights and empowerment in Africa. She recognised the work of the Chairperson of the AU Commission Madam Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma and that of the AU Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security Madam Bineta Diop in pushing the agenda of women peace and security and of mitigating violence against women in conflict on the continent.
Speaking at the same occasion, Mrs Assotou Koite, President of the Panafrican Women’s Organisation similarly acknowledged the political role of GIMAC as a strategic platform for talking to heads of states and government, giving them awareness of women’s rights and security concerns. She pledged African women’s support for the office of the office of the Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security at the AU, labelling it as a high political office for a woman.
In her congratulatory remarks to Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma, Mrs Koite noted that the past two years have kept hope alive and helped women dream for a better life in Africa, as well as helped share women’s dreams during all head of states summits. She described the dream for a better Africa as one where a woman will not die during child birth, where we should be able to fight with our strength against poverty and disease so that we make our continent a place where people can live well. “Since Dr Zuma came on board as Chairperson of the Commission, women have become very high on the agenda within the AU. The talk about gender equality and women’s empowerment and development as a roadmap to achievement of sustainable peace is high on the AU agenda, and is also in line with Africa’s agenda of 2063. Since Beijing, we have walked many years of disappointment as many actions for women’s empowerment were lost in transit, but thank God we are now rising up and participating effectively in the AU, which is a big organisation. My appeal is to the youth to take this agenda and make it yours, make it yours in 2025, in 2035 and in 2063. The GIMAC working towards ensuring that every time there is a meeting young people are in large numbers because we want you to take this platform as today’s leaders and of tomorrow’s leaders as well. We believe in the theme, “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063: The Way Forward.” It is part of our dream - the dream that we want to actualise as women of Africa.
This meeting will allow us to present to the heads of states the achievement of our dreams, that we do not want our dream to be in the drawers but to be taken out of the drawers and used to deliver for our sisters who are sitting in the darkness with no access to healthcare, portable water and sufficient food intake. We want to ensure that these women out of that darkness so that our cities will look like our rural areas and vice versa.
The AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Madame Bineta Diop thanked everyone present for the value they give to prepare, contribute and participate to the debate of the AU summit. “I want to congratulate civil society organisations. We now define the AU as ‘We”. The AU is us and we are its people, we are part of that organisation and as the women’s movement we continue to claim to be part of that institution. I congratulates all civil society organisations and partners who contribute to make this summit possible while we celebrate past efforts to bring the women’s agenda high such as Beijing. We should continue to be resilient, vigilant and maintain our solidarity ship for the generation of youths here and also for the grassroots women, victims of war, and victims of pandemics like HIV and Ebola, and we fight for their right to be respected and promoted. I attended the 25th GIMAC in January and I congratulate you for the work you have done in putting priorities on the table and in proposing solutions to unleash the potential for women. Today Africa has adopted Agenda 2063, a visionary plan for our continent, Africa, in peace and at peace with itself, developing its own people and using its own resources. It is time to celebrate the women leadership of the chairperson of the AU, Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma, who spear headed agenda 2063 and the fact that this year is our year of empowerment as women. 50 years on, she put us at the forefront in taking stock of the women’s agenda together with the female Commissioners and women Ambassadors in Addis Ababa. Agenda 2063 was couched using a human rights based bottom up approach, with contributions from grassroots women, women in parliament and women in government. GIMAC members and member states have defined the six priority areas. This GIMAC’s debate will look into the solutions that we defined in January and all along these 15 years. We say no more words, no more resolutions! We have enough resolutions, what we need is more action. We must move from solemn declarations to solemn deliverables! GIMAC fits Africa in its proper context, a context of Africa Rising, and a context of economic growth. It is time economic growth, peace and security reach the most marginalised woman and girl on the continent. We need inclusive growth. At the centre of our everyday pre-occupation is envisaging how to make agenda 2063 happen with women at the centre. GIMAC has developed indicators for development, and there are so many initiatives within Agenda 2063 to make this a reality. Our agenda today is about organising, putting our heads together on the roadmap for Agenda 2063. GIMAC will be supported to contribute to the high level panel of the summit, and on women peace and security. In the course o the discussion we will also amplify the voices of the women victims in war. GIMCA is asking the AU PSC to include women in the Burundi talks that start tomorrow. We want the Burundi women to be part of these negotiations. We congratulate the AU for the Situation Room, a tool that has helped mitigate conflict by communicating conflict issues from the member states to the fore. That tool can be used effectively for implementing the Solemn Declaration, and we must continue using it as women.”
Burundi has been characterised by spates of violent and deliberate killings since the attempted coup at the beginning of May this year. Madame Diop closed her speech by thanking all UN Agencies who have contributed and supported the GIMAC.
Mrs Fatima Haran ACYL, representing the Chairperson of the AU Commission Madam Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma reiterated that Dr Zuma takes issue of African structural transformation seriously and always reminds heads of states about the role of women and girls in transformation in the continent. She noted that serious prosperity of the continent cannot ignore more than 55% of the population which is women, talks about women empowerment, and repeated Madame Diop’s call to move from solemn declarations to solemn deliverables to be taken very seriously at this summit. She congratulated GIMAC for providing critical platform for CSOs and women’s organisations to meet and reflect on progress, and jointly strategize on pushing forward the pan African agenda. In January on the margins of summit in Addis Ababa we agreed that in line with the theme of the year for the realisation of women’s rights for Agenda 2063, we must use this year to make decisive progress on key areas and identify the 6 priority areas; namely health, governance, education, agriculture, peace and security and women’s economic empowerment.
Since then we have focused on the practical issues to take these priority areas forward. I am sure this GIMAC will take stock of where we are and the practical issues needed as we finalise the first ten year plan for agenda 2063.
“During the Malabo summit on agriculture we were in consultation with women farmers who appealed for Africa to relegate the hoe to the museum. We have listened, and at this summit we will launch a campaign to replace this relic with modern technology and achieve this within the next ten years. The summit will launch a continental free trade area and at the end of June a tripartite summit for SADC, COMESA and AISA will make conclusions on this in Egypt. Women make up the majority of cross border traders and we must look at ways to ensure that their voices feature prominently in the trade negotiations. We will be launching at this summit the inaugural African gender score card to monitor progress and share best practices so that we hold each other accountable for implementation of our gender protocol and solemn declaration. Ministers of Finance and Planning at last meeting in Addis Ababa discussed issues of implementing the first 10 years of agenda 2063 and ensuring that our agenda is reconciled with the national plans in each country. They discussed the issue of credit to women, and Dr Zuma stated that all governors of the central banks must be involved in these meetings to come up with concrete resolves. She emphasised that Africa must move away from micro credit when we talk about women because there is nothing micro about us. The issue of collateral and access to land will be discussed at the next GIMAC, and we continue to emphasise the value of the voices and actions of civil society critical to take GEWE forward.
For the first time young women have been given practical recognition in the GIMAC agenda, with Plan International fielding 10 young women participants at the summit. Rural women are also part of the GIMAC.