Edinah Masanga, who worked as a journalist for a decade, has launched the Women Empowerment Foundation Scribes Africa (WEFSA) in Zimbabwe in a bid to amplify women's voices.
Masanga notes that women are still seen as a minority in journalism worldwide and that they all go through the same experiences, including unethical practices such as sexual harassment, discrimination, while exclusion continues to be a challenge for women in this profession.
She states that WEFSA is built on real life and personal experiences by female journalists in newsrooms to advocate for issues of women and media from outside the confines of the newsrooms.
To read the article titled, “Female journalists marginalised,” click here.Source:All Africa
Former Constitutional Court Justice, Zak Yacoob, hopes President Jacob Zuma will reject an all-male list of candidates to replace him.
Yacoob criticises Zuma for not "taking the importance of appointing women to court seriously enough", adding that the president has the power, in terms of the Constitution, to ask for additional names.
He argues that, "Whatever the JSC [Judicial Service Commission] does, I would hope the president would say to the JSC: 'I want more names. Go find them'."
To read the article titled, “Yacoob hopes for more women in Constitutional Court,” click here.Source:Mail & Guardian
A recent study by Women in Politics and Decision Making Permanent Committee (WPDM PC) has revealed that women representation in decision-making positions is very low in many institutions in Malawi.
Chairperson of WPDM PC, which is under Gender Coordination Network (GCN), Emmie Chanika, disclosed that some institutions are not aware of gender instruments that seek to promote women’s representations and participation in decision-making.
Chanika explains that the report had singled out minimal qualifications held by women in the country which bars them from competing with their male counterpart, more drop-outs of females from colleges and some jobs like construction as some of the reasons behind unsuccessful of the campaign.
To read the article titled, “Malawi far to achieve 50/50 campaign by 2015- CSOs,” click here.Source:Nyasa Times
The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, says the Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill is almost ready to go to Cabinet.
Xingwana says the Bill, which is expected to make gender equity in the private and public sector mandatory, will enable government to come up with sanctions and measures that will ensure companies, organisations and political parties comply.
"South Africa has made commitments through the Constitution, various pieces of legislation, and international conventions to respect, promote, protect, and advance the rights of women. We have a duty and obligation to honour these commitments," she explains.
To read the article titled, “Gender Bill coming soon,” click here.Source:The Citizen
President Jacob Zuma says that women's representation in local government has decreased after the 2011 elections.
Zuma says this is despite the increase in representation of women in Parliament from 2.7 percent during apartheid to 27 percent after 1994.
Addressing the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa conference in Mthatha, he pointed out that, "The country missed the opportunity at these elections to advance local government towards a 50/50 gender parity."
To read the article titled, “Fewer women in local government: Zuma,” click here.Source:The Citizen
Malawi's NGO Gender Coordination Network has expressed concern over low female representation in President Joyce Banda's cabinet, in which out of 30 ministers and deputies, only eight are female.
The organisation’s chairperson, Emma Kalia, has been quoted as saying that the low representation of female ministers in the new cabinet is contrary to the Southern African Development Community and Africa Union regulations that call for equal opportunities between men and women.
Kalia further argues that the number of female ministers in the cabinet is getting lower and lower, adding that, currently, there are six female ministers and two deputies against 16 male ministers and seven male deputies.
To read the article titled, “Low female representation in new cabinet irks NGO,” click here.Source:All Africa
The Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) says that if the government is serious about media freedom and access to news for all income groups, it should make sure everyone has access to affordable broadband.
MMA director, William Bird, points out that access to affordable broadband will ensure genuine diversity and involvement and it will force media whose models do not cater for the digital environment to evolve, adding that, “They will have to engage and cater for this growing audience which will have equal access."
His comments come as the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), established to promote media diversity in SA, in a statement to commemorate the Press Freedom Day, criticised the lack of transformation in the print media sector.
To read the article titled, “Cheap broadband paramount to media freedom,” click here.Source:Business Day
Malawian gender activist, Emma Kaliya, says her country is at position eight, while South Africa has clinched the first position on gender development and governance in Southern African Development Community region.
Kaliya, who is executive director of NGO Gender Coordination network, argues that the cancellation of the local polls to 2014 has affected the country's standing.
The NGO only assessed the country on 2009 elections and public as well as private sectors.
To read the article titled, “South Africa scores highly on gender, Malawi # 8,” click here.Source:The Maravi Post
- According to the United Nations (UN), recent elections in East and Southern Africa have left fewer women in politics, placing countries at risk of not meeting equality targets.
Speaking at a women conference in Johannesburg, UN Development Programme director, Bo Asplund, pointed out that, "Elections in the region have shown regression with regard to women's representation in parliament."
Asplund said research has shown that when you have progress on the millennium development goal (MDG) of gender equity, there is automatic progress on two of the other MDGs -- poverty and maternal health.
To read the article titled, “African elections put fewer women in Parliament,” click here.Source:Mail&Guardian
- Some gains, but an uphill climb still looms
Africa's political independence was accompanied by a clarion call to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and disease. Fifty years after the end of colonialism, the question is: To what extent has the promise of that call been realised for African women? There is no doubt that African women's long walk to freedom has yielded some results, however painfully and slowly.
The African Union (AU) now has a legally binding protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the rights of women. The protocol spells out clearly women's rights to equality and non-discrimination in a number of areas. It has been ratified by a growing number of African states, can be used in civil law proceedings and is being codified into domestic common law. The AU has also issued a Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, under which member states are supposed to regularly report on progress.
The protocol and declaration both reflect and reinforce developments at the national level. Many African states have moved to enhance constitutional protections for African women — particularly in the area of women's rights and equality. And the last two decades have seen the emergence of legislation to address violence against women, including sexual violence.
These developments have been accompanied by improvements in African women's political representation. The AU adopted, from its inception, a 50 percent quota for women's representation, which is reflected in the composition of the AU Commission.
Again, this standard reflects and reinforces efforts to enhance women's representation at the national level. South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have reached the 30 percent benchmark for their legislatures. Rwanda has gone further — with 50 percent representation, it has one of the best in the world. A few countries, including Nigeria, have seen women assume non-traditional ministerial portfolios, in defence and finance, for example. And Liberia has made history (‘herstory’) by becoming the first African country to elect into office a female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Progress is evident, particularly in countries that have electoral systems based on or incorporating proportional representation. However, enhanced women's representation has been harder to achieve in first-past-the-post electoral systems.
Even where there has been progress, the question is whether increased representation of women is catalysing action by the executives and legislatures in favour of gender equality. That question arises because the battle for women's representation is not only demographic (with political representation as an end) but also for gender equality (with political representation as a means).
Put another way, there has been a shift in the focus and strategy of the African women's movement over the last two decades, from emphasising capacity-building to improve African women's access to resources to emphasising decision making to enhance African women's control over resources. This shift was made possible by real gains resulting from the capacity-building approach.
Education, poverty, health
These gains are most evident in African women's education. Girls and boys are now at par with respect to primary school enrolment. Efforts to get girls into school have been accompanied by efforts to keep them in school and to promote role models by developing gender-responsive curricula. Gender gaps are also narrowing in secondary education. The real challenge now lies at the university level, both in the enrolment figures and in curricula to benefit young women. So much for the ‘illiteracy’ element of the African independence clarion call.
It is true that since independence investments in micro-credit and micro-enterprises for women have improved their individual livelihoods - and therefore those of their families. Since African women have proved that they are good lending risks, micro-credit is now being offered not just by development and micro-finance institutions, but also by commercial financial institutions.
Yet there was a critique of such investments, especially in the decade of the 1980s when governments withdrew from social service delivery as a result of structural adjustment programmes. Under those circumstances, such investments essentially enabled redistribution among the impoverished, rather than at a larger level, from the rich to the poor.
The end of that era thus saw a new focus on gender budgeting: looking at where national budget allocations and expenditures could enhance women's status in the economy. Unsurprisingly, this approach has led African governments back towards public investments in social services.
It is now agreed, for example, that the benchmark for public investments in health in Africa is 15 percent. The African women's movement has called in particular for more to be directed towards reproductive and sexual health and rights. These areas are of critical concern to women, given the impact of HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality and violence against women, particularly in conflict areas. They are also of concern since African women's continued lack of autonomy and choice over reproduction and sexuality lie at the heart of so much suffering. So much for the ‘disease’ element of the independence call.
Where to over the next 50 years, then? In light of the experience so far, the African women's movement will be focusing not just on political representation, but also on the meaning of that representation for advancing gender equality and women's human rights. And given recent retreats in Africa (such as the rise of the constitutional coup and ‘negotiated democracy’), the women's movement will also be focusing on democracy, peace and security more broadly — that is, on the nature of the political system itself and not just on the means of getting into that system.
Economically, women will continue to focus on the macro-level, but in a deeper sense. What has emerged from gender budgeting efforts is the need to actually track budgetary expenditures, not just getting information about allocations.
It is also necessary to concentrate on the macro-economic framework for fiscal and monetary policies, especially in the context of stabilisation programmes in response to the recent economic shocks. Previously that framework was assumed to be gender-neutral, but it clearly can have gendered consequences. This problem must be addressed to ensure that Africa's growth will enhance women's livelihoods.
Finally, the women's movement will be focusing on reproductive and sexual health and rights. The battle over choice (including over gender identity and sexual orientation) is now an open one in many African countries. It is no longer couched politely in demographic or health terms.
The upsurge of conservative identity politics (in both ethnic and religious terms) is fuelling conflict on the continent. It constrains and dangerously limits women's human rights, including reproductive and sexual rights. Such notions are not harmless — they have grave consequences for women's autonomy, choice and bodily integrity. They therefore must be challenged.
African women's long walk to freedom has only just begun.
- L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. She was formerly executive director of the African Women's Development and Communication Network, a pan-African organisation working towards women's development, equality and rights. This article was first published in the Africa Renewal Magazine.