bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 5 — 9 March 2012
Africa Progress Panel
9-11 rue de Varembé
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel +41 (0)22 919 7520
The International Women’s Day celebrated yesterday, 8th March 2012 invites us to reflect on where Africa stands with respect to the third Millennium Development Goal, which is aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. According to the recently published 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, women and girls’ lives have improved dramatically in recent years.
Yet, despite this progress, women and girls still face many challenges. For example, sixty per cent of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide are women and girls, according to UNESCO. And in fragile states, women and girls are particularly vulnerable. As Mr. Kofi Annan remarked recently, “For too long the women and children of Africa have borne the brunt of conflict on our continent, whether through gender based violence, displacement, or a lack of access to basic human rights. Time again, we know that women are often the peacemakers in their households, in their communities and even at a national level.”
The UN’s latest Africa Renewal reports that women around the world, but especially those in Africa, are still struggling for their fair share of political power and economic opportunity. In spite of the essential roles that women play in sustaining their families and their unquestionable contribution to the economic and social development of African societies, deep cultural and traditional barriers continue to constrain them.
As UN Women point out, gender equality is more than just a basic human right; its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and Farming First’s info graphics series, highlighted in last week’s Guardian newspaper, underscores the fact that while women form the majority of the agricultural labour force in Africa, they make up less than 20% of agricultural holders. Similarly, on the whole, they earn half of what their male counterparts do and have less access to credit and technology. If women were paid their equal dues, imagine how well their contributions would support themselves and their families, as well as, their nations’ development goals.
Tools promoting this inclusion exist and should be further supported. The African Union, for example, adopted, from its inception, a 50 per cent quota for women’s representation, which is reflected in the composition of the AU Commission. This standard reflects and reinforces efforts to enhance women’s representation at the national level. Angola, Mozambique and South Africa have exceeded the 30 per cent benchmark for their legislatures. These examples are repeated elsewhere in Africa, but much more needs to be done to translate these political gains into economic empowerment and social justice for women at the local and regional levels.
In recent decades – thanks in great part to their own organization and effort – African women have made important strides. Indeed, in 2011 alone, we saw many positive developments in Africa regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment. From the Arab Spring to the presidential elections in Liberia, from the Nobel Peace Prize to agriculture and food security, African women are on the move and have been leading the way, highlighting as they do so their intention to stake their claim to fully participate in the continent’s promising future.
At a time of global economic and political instability, it is important that we invest in a sustainable future: we need to encourage a renewed push for active political participation and equality, as well as to ensure support for female entrepreneurs, business persons and elected officials.
The lack of equality for women in Africa is not only unjust, but deeply damaging for the continent’s prospects.
- Graça Machel, Africa Progress Panel Member
- According to Senegal’s judicial authorities, incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade and ex-Prime Minister Macky Sall are expected to face a second round run-off vote on 25 March 2012. Citizens are experiencing concerns that the run-off might be affected by violence.
- Talks continue between Sudan and South Sudan as they try to resolve simmering disputes over oil, borders, and citizenship issues. The dispute over fees for the use of oil pipelines that prompted South Sudan to shut down all oil production is a move, analysts say that is likely to financially hurt both countries.
- Guinea’s Electoral Commission sets a date (8 July 2012) to hold its delayed parliamentary election, a vote that could help the West African nations unblock donor aid. The legislative poll, which had been due last December, is expected to mark the final step in Guinea's transition from military to civilian rule.
- Stressing that the international community waited too long to respond to famine in East Africa last year, charity organization, Oxfam calls for urgent action to stop drought in West Africa's Sahel region turning into a humanitarian disaster, which could affect 13 million people.
- Following the proclaimed autonomy of East Libyan leaders in the oil-rich region of Cyrenaica that called for the establishment of a federal system in the post-revolution nation; Libyans in several major cities, including Benghazi, have taken to the streets to reject the federal system of government. Advocates of federalism argue that the move will prevent further marginalization of the east, while opponents express fear that it will split the country and mar reconciliation efforts.
- AfDB invests in its first private sector project in Côte d’Ivoire in over a decade with a €58m toll bridge loan
- AfDB approves an equity investment of $50 million into the Carlyle sub-Saharan Africa Fund. The is the first investment vehicle that the US-based private equity firm, 'The Carlyle Group,' has raised to pursue its geographical expansion into sub-Saharan Africa
- AfDB approves €25m grant to improve agriculture in rural Côte d’Ivoire
- AfDB loans €32.5m to Tunisia to boost flow of irrigation water to country’s farms
- ECOWAS launches project to monitor agricultural information in the sub-region
- ECOWAS and the AU call for compromise in Senegal presidential vote
- ECOWAS lagging behind SADC, EAC, COMESA in integration, according to Ghana’s Vice President John Dramani Mahama
- To keep Somalis ‘committed’, the UN Secretary-General urges the Security Council to continue to support political, security, and recovery processes
- UN Secretary-General commends Senegal for peaceful conduct of presidential election’s first round and appeals for the same spirit of democratic commitment in the second
World Bank offers Malawi turn around plan to help turn around the troubled economy of the southern African nation
- World Bank to improve MENA’s broadband by optimizing fiber optic networks for broadband use
- World Bank boosts Africa’s food security with $1 billion
In the blogs...
- From Poverty to Power: International Women’s Day – What to celebrate, what to condemn? 8 March 2012 – Duncan Green, Head of research for Oxfam GB, looks at various opinions and perspectives of International Women’s Day.
- Africa Arguments: #StopKony2012: For most Ugandans Kony’s crimes are from a bygone era, 8 March 2012 – The blogger argues that Invisible Children’s campaign is a misrepresentation of the facts and that one of the biggest problems with this kind of “game-show type ‘pornography of violence’” is that it has a dangerous hold on policy types in Washington DC whose access to nuanced information and profiles of issues is similarly limited.
- Harvard Business Review: What Africa’s entrepreneurs can teach the world, 5 March 2012 – Bright B. Simons, the person who invented the SMS short code system for authenticating pharmaceuticals, argues that entrepreneurship is the answer to the economic questions facing Africa today. He then discusses the two main characteristics of African entrepreneurship that he believes sets it apart: hyper-entrepreneurship and excess diversification.
- The World Bank’s Africa Can End Poverty Blog: Africa is rising – is poverty falling? 1 March 2012 – Shanta Devarajan discusses the latest data on global poverty rates that suggest that not only is poverty declining in the world in general, but it is declining in Africa specifically.
- The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and partners launch an Index to ‘Empower Women and Fight Hunger.’ The “Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index” (WEAI) is the first measure to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector.
- UNRISD’s recent report, ‘The Politics of Resource Extraction: Indigenous People, Multinational Corporations, and the State’, explores mega resource extraction projects in Africa and elsewhere in the world, and discusses the impact these projects are having on the livelihoods of indigenous communities.
- ‘World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education’ by UNESCO, enables readers to visualize the educational pathways of girls and boys in terms of access, participation and progression from pre-primary to tertiary education.
- According to a recent UNICEF and WHO report, ‘Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update’, the world has achieved the MDG on safe drinking water, though the target in improving sanitation globally may not be reached before the 2015 deadline.
- A publication by IFAD and FAO presents a series of case studies that highlight the crucial role of producer groups and cooperatives in fighting hunger and poverty.
- allAfrica.com - Nigeria: Call to appoint Finance Minister to head World Bank, 6 March 2012 – Harold E. Doley, Jr., a former US Executive Director to the AfDB, argues that President Barack Obama should nominate Nigerian finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the next president of the World Bank.
- allAfrica.com - North Africa: Waiting Game, 6 March 2012 – Co-authors Adam Robert Green and Eleanor Whitehead argue that as new and emerging governments establish political office in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, strategies to tackle economic exclusion are still lagging.
- The New York Times: How to prevent another Darfur, 29 Feb. 2012 – A series of opinion pieces that discuss what world leaders can do to prevent another humanitarian disaster from taking place in Sudan.
- National Mirror: The poverty time bomb, 28 Feb. 2012 – The author discusses a recently released Nigerian report that states that despite the country’s impressive economic growth, close to 70 percent of the population lives in poverty.
- The Atlantic: Africa’s amazing rise and what it can teach us, 25 Feb. 2012 - G. Pascal Zachary, a professor at Arizona State University, discusses Africa's rise since 2000 and argues that conversations about development on the continent must catch up to the realities on the ground.
- Le Senegalais - Last month, Haiti became a member of the African Union, virtually unnoticed. Francis Kpatindé explains why this decision makes sense. Haiti, the first black Republic in history to overthrow its colonial rulers, has always maintained strong relationships with African countries and its future is in many ways tied to developments in Africa (Article in French).
- G20 Finance ministers and Central Bank governors reaffirms their support to global economic recovery, the reform of the IMF governance, environment friendly jobs and disaster risk management
- Australia to delist 82 individuals from its Zimbabwe sanctions list, a move seen, on the one hand, as sowing seeds of division, but, on the other hand, a policy shift of western powers
- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa contemplate pooling resources and funds together to create a multilateral bank, but only by and for exclusive use of developing nations such as theirs
- China donates $14 million humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, mainly intended to alleviate food shortage in the country
- Nigeria’s trade with India tops $9 billion. These businesses will aim at expanding the manufacturing base so as to increase job creation and technology transfers
- Italy and Tunisia develop a partnership to promote environment and renewable energy cooperation, particularly concerning the protection of the Mediterranean and recycling of waste
- JICA will provide $200 million in funding for the reconstruction of a 304 km road project in Mozambique
- Turkish Airlines has started flying to Mogadishu twice a week as part of the country’s greater involvement in rebuilding the Somalian state with extensive humanitarian and development assistance programs
- British firm to invest $20 billion in Tanzania’s economy for gas exploration projects
- The Obama Administration is asking congress for $7.9 billion to fund global health in 2013 in addition to supporting political economic and social reforms in the Middle East and North Africa
- The United States African Development Foundation approves a $1million grant to support Tanzania’s small and sedium-sized enterprises
|12-13 March||Special High-level Meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods Institutions, WTO and UNCTAD: New York, U.S.A|
|12-14 March||4th Inter Agency Meeting on Coordination and Harmonization of HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Strategies: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|12-16 March||World Water Forum on “Partnership for Strengthening Water Security in Africa: ” Marseille, France|
|12-30 March||104th session of United Nations Human Rights Committe: New York, U.S.A|
|22-23 March||AfDB 2012 Partnerships Forum on “Partnering for a Green and Inclusive Africa”: Tunis, Tunisia|
|22-27 March||Fifth Joint Meeting AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|