Has the African Union done anything substantive for you? #DGTrends

side-eye-queen

I took this screenshot as I was ‘googling’ the African Union; was seeking to find out the public’s views on the organ and their work.

Screenshot_2014-09-23-17-02-15

I aim to discuss the above specifically with regards to the dialogue that they intend to have in the near future on vulnerabilities and challenges of women in conflict and their role in building democratic governance in Africa. This dialogue will be an integral part of the Third Annul High Level Dialogue whose focus will be to explore ways on how democratic-developmental governance can be leveraged to silence Africa’s blazing guns by 2020.

Some of you may think that this topic is dis-interesting, and for others, simply none of your business. I would like to try and jog your memory.

A reminder on the emotions and thoughts that crossed your mind when you heard the news of the conflicts and heinous atrocities happening in CAR and Mali, when the girls from Chibok were abducted, when countless numbers of women were reported to have been raped and assaulted by AMISOM troops in Somalia, the stories within our borders of militia groups and troops raping and maiming our women and children. I would like you for a brief second to sit with those emotions and try and recollect the discomfort that sat at the pit of your stomach.

This brings us back to the question; has the AU done anything for you? Or can it do anything for you? “Definitely not,” most of us would say.

It is unfortunate that this is the same organ whose troops have been reported to rape and assault women and children during and post conflict; the very citizens it’s mandated to protect. With some reports reading as follows,

‘The AU soldiers, relying on Somali intermediaries,have used a range of tactics, including humanitarian aid,to coerce vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity, girls as young as 12.’

So how then do they intend to address this issue? One may ask.

Often times most people think that the AU is an old boys club whose members meet in Addis from time to time, sit, talk and watch clouds pass by. I for one, tended to think that up till the moment that I decided it was high time I clothed myself with some information.

This is the same body that supposedly plays a critical role in championing for my rights, heck I needed to know what they were up to. This is how I came to learn about the African Governance Architecture framework within the African Union Commission; a platform that aims to make the African Union a people driven organization vis-à-vis what it was before to many of us, an old boys club. To understand the AU better kindly have a look here

The AU established the African Governance Architecture (AGA) as the overall continental framework for promoting, nurturing, strengthening and consolidating democracy and governance in Africa. It seeks to achieve these objectives through among other initiatives facilitating constructive dialogue among Member States, African Union Organs, institutions, Regional Economic Communities, African citizens, civil society and other stakeholders on emerging trends, threats, challenges and opportunities on democratic governance and human rights in Africa.

To understand better the AU’s vision in achieving gender equality and participation of women in strengthening democracy and peace building in Africa, we need to familiarize ourselves somewhat with the legal and policy framework.

So… in an effort to provide durable solutions to the pngoing conflicts in Africa and ensure participation of women in building democratic governance and peace, the AU has adopted various norms, institutions and strategies. These include:

  • the African Shared Values instruments especially the Constitutive Act
  • the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
  • the Protocol to the  African  Charter  for  Human  and  Peoples’  Rights  on  the  Rights  of  Women  in Africa
  • The AU Gender Policy (2009)

Other specific strategies include the five year Gender Peace and Security Programme (GPSP) Strategy that is designed to serve as a framework for the work of the AUC in gender equality and women empowerment in the areas of prevention, participation, protection, capacity building and knowledge management.

Other relevant global instruments that guide the work of the AU in this regard include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which states in Article 7, that state parties are obliged to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in public life.

The Beijing Declaration on Women takes this further by linking women’s participation in political processes to transparency and accountability in governance and sustainable development.

In addition, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 addresses the inordinate impact of war on women, the pivotal role women should and do play in  conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.

These policy documents and instruments emphasize the need for enhanced women’s participation in governance and development processes to ensure strong democratic and governance institutions/systems. They further recognize that women’s equal participation is essential to bringing about peace, stability and development on the continent, which are at the core of the AU’s agenda.

I hope that this post has been a little informative in laying the foundation in understanding what the AU does with regards to women in democratization and the peace building process.

Let’s keep discussing these issues using the hash tag #dgtrends as we continue to stay abreast with the AU’s work whist at the same time making an informed decision on whether it does or does not work for us. Stay posted. . .

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. morine tata
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 08:00:02

    AU has a positive impact in my life moreso in political aspect. Through the training i have attended in AU workshops. Am inspiring to vyi in political post 2017 in kenya as a member county of assembly. Thank you.

    Like

    Reply

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