Beijing+20 in Africa
Since the 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, Africa has made considerable strides in developing progressive frameworks to advance the rights of women on the Continent. The adoption of the gender equality principle in the African Union’s (AU) Constitutive Act of 2002, the AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa of 2003, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa of 2004, and 2010 the launch of the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020 are some examples.
At national and regional levels, significant progress has been made in such critical areas as: women’s political participation, girls’ education, maternal health, adoption of action plans on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, as well as laws and policies on violence against women, amongst others.
Even with all the achievements made during the last two decades on the African continent, the 20 year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s BDPfA comes within a social, political and economic environment in which many of the gains made in 1995 are facing various threats.
Trends and challenges continue to hinder the advancement of women and girls’ rights, for example: widening inequalities between the rich and poor and between men and women due to prioritization of macroeconomic policies that are driven by growth, without equitable development and respect for human rights; HIV, maternal mortality and morbidity continue to be amongst the leading causes of death for women; increasing radical and extremist groups that pose threats to the safety, security and advancement of women and girls, and the shrinking space and resources for civil society particularly those working on women’s rights.