8TH MARCH 2021
MESSAGE BY H.E. BINETA DIOP SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
Since last year’s International Women’s Day, we have gone through very unprecedented times. As we prepared to roll out an auspicious year, marked by the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the year of “Silencing the Guns in Africa”, COVID-19 erupted, with all its corollary of disruptions.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the lives of women and girls. In the health care sector where they are the majority in the global health frontlines, women were brutally exposed to the virus. COVID-19 caused a sharp rise in gender-based violence, rolling back gains made over the years in the fight against this scourge. On the other hand, about three-quarters of African women work in the informal sector making them vulnerable to the shocks caused by the pandemic, yet unqualified to receive much of the support provided by governments through this period.
In the face of this adversity, women showed resilience, providing leadership in both formal and informal spaces. Very quickly, women and women-led organizations, pulled together meagre resources, to provide urgent support to families and communities; women refugees and IDPs initiated awareness campaigns, women peacekeepers extended support to communities affected by conflict. Women leaders, from Government and civil society, joined voices for the adoption of gender-responsive guidelines for Africa’s responses to COVID-19 and the post COVID-19 recovery efforts.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 under the theme: “Women in Leadership, Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID 19 world”, it is important that we not only celebrate women but scale up our actions to make Africa, and the world at large, safe and level for women and girls.
We owe it to them to do our part to strengthen their legacy. We must not fail them.
As we speak of building back better after the pandemic, strategies to end gender inequality and marginalization of women must be part of the endeavour, as women must attain their full rights in playing a pivotal role in decisions that will shape our world. Gender equality is fundamental to global peace, security and s development. There is no better time to aim for 50/50 gender parity in all spheres of life. We must make sure that structural inequalities, entrenched in society and culture and hindering women from partaking in leadership at all levels of society, are dismantled.
To celebrate this day, we recognise inspirational women in our lives. May they continue to guide us beyond celebrations, and shape our actions for a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Africa, where no one is left behind.
Happy International Women’s Day.