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Gender Equality: Africa must step it up

Gender Equality: Africa must step it up

International Women's Day (IWD)

On the principal street of Pointe-Noire, the economic capital of the Republic of Congo, hundreds of women from civil society and several associations marched, amid brass band music, it is yet another International Womens Day. Int. Women's Day march in Pointe-Noire

Another day to highlight the inequality, poverty and violence women face in all forms, either psychological or physical in this day and age. These critical issues will just not go away. Women and gender activists all over the world on this day will again appeal for one thing, “equal rights”.

It is a legitimate call for every girl child on the continent who will grow to become a woman.

Changing a ‘man’s world’?

Women form about 49 percent of the global population yet marginalised in all spheres of society.

The International Labour Organization data released on this day shows that since 1995, employment rate between men and women has decreased by 0.6 %, but of most concern is the quality of jobs women do.

ILO boss Guy Ryder said “finding and keeping decent jobs” is a continuous challenge with enormous challenges.

“Throughout their working lives, women continue to face significant obstacles in gaining access to decent jobs.”

6.2% of women are jobless across the world compared to 5.5% of men.

“24% of senior roles are held by women globally”, according to figures released by the US based audit firm, Grant Thornton International Business Report.

Stepping up for Gender Parity

In spite of the challenges on gender equality and empowering women in Africa, the African Union’s declaration of 2010-2020 as the African Women’s Decade, has demonstrated some commitment to bridging the gap.

Of the 54 countries, more than half have also ratified the AU’s Protocol on the Rights Of Women in Africa.

Majority of the countries have also ratified the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

Ghana recently launched a campaign to end child marriage. Nigeria and The Gambia are among over 20 African countries that have criminalized female genital mutilation.

However, national actions by governments on the continent to gender equality gap is not enough. There is a huge gap between governments that draw up policies and laws and those who actually put this regulations into practise.

Most of these countries have created “Gender Ministries” as a sign to show their commitment to women and child right issues yet these ministries are under resourced and under financed. They are unable to carry out their mandate to empower women to take up their full role in society and hardly bite hard.

The UN envisage a world in 2030 where there will be equal opportunities for all in an all new agenda based on 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“These are the changes for which governments have repeatedly signed their support, with international protocols on non-discrimination, and on different aspects of rights and global goods. To date, that support has not been felt all the way through society; consequently results have fallen short of aspiration,” said Phunzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women in 2015 in a write up in the Huffington Post.

Gender equality in Africa is expected to eradicate all forms of: *Discrimination *Abuse *Violence

And to; *Increase women in leadership positions *Decent work *Equal pay for equal work *Increase girl child enrollment *Reduction in maternal and child deaths

These are all barriers confronting women and girls on the African continent to achieving their potentials.