Specialized Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment



H.E Sahle-Work Zewde President of Ethiopia

H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson, African Union Commission

H.E Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission

H.E. Dr. Mèdessè Véronique Tognifodé Mewanou Chair of the STC Bureau

H.E Gisele Ndaya Luseba STC Rapporteur

Ms Prudence Ngwenya, WGYD Acting Director

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening

Let me take this opportunity in thanking my sister President Sahle Work Zewde for leaving her busy schedule and joining us here today and always championing the cause of women. We are grateful to the Government and People of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for hosting us here as always.  

I would also like to appreciate our He for She, HE Moussa Mahamat Faki, for his tireless work and support in pushing the Women Peace and Security agenda of women forward. Our consistent male voice in the commission championing the work of women and girls on the continent.

Also, I would like to appreciate my sister the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa for her continuous support.

I would like also to congratulate the Bureau of the STC for successfully meeting this year.

I am honoured to participate in this 6th Specialised Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and delighted that we are making giant strides in the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

As a key structure of the African Union, the STC provides a platform for influencing the path of our collective vision and shared agenda.  Listening to all the deliberations on the need to adopt key agendas in actualizing gender equality and women’s empowerment is a testament to how important this mandate is.

As we know, women and girls are key agents of development and change and in achieving this, women and girls should be a part of building a fair, inclusive, prosperous, and peaceful Africa. Therefore, I am happy to see that in our work, we have consistently chosen gender equality as a core value that we must consistently uphold through the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. Since the adoption of the SDGEA in 2014, it continues to serve as a mechanism for reporting on measures taken by our governments in implementing gender equality.

Over the past two decades since the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, we have seen more women in political and decision-making positions. Rwanda is a great achievement where we have seen 60 per cent of women hold seats in the national parliament. In fact, in the ranking of countries by the World Economic Forum for 2021, Namibia and Rwanda have been ranked 6th and 7th in the gender-equal countries in the world. A major advantage of having more women parliamentarians is that they provide leadership and ownership of instruments and processes that help promote gender equality. In our context of National Action Plans (NAPS) being tools to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women’s leadership in parliament helps drive the adoption and implementation of these NAPs. We can see its positive implication on the continent as Africa is leading in the development of NAPs globally with more than half the continent implementing and adequately reporting on the implementation of the United Nations Resolution 1325. This is a milestone considering recent history on the continent.

One of the key elements that have become critical for the advancement of gender equality is the acknowledgement of the role that men play. All too often we focus on addressing women without bringing in men who are critical to any discourse on gender equality. The recognition of some of the challenges men face in their expression of masculinity and correcting those is important to our cause. This is why the Men’s Conference on Positive Masculinity is a testament that if we all work together, we can end violence against women and girls. I am grateful that our champion, President Tshisekedi galvanised action towards ensuring that men in leadership positions anchor the role of promoting positive masculinity and as such is a means of demanding accountability at all levels. It is my wish that this action that has started at the continental level is replicated in countries across the continent. And I hope we can count on your support, Honourable Ministers, to champion this in your countries.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Despite efforts over the years, violence against women and girls continues to be a devastating issue for survivors of these crimes with has a substantial social and economic cost to the state. Yet, the state’s capacity to track cases and follow up on abuse remains. In fact, only 44% of Member States sampled by our Continental Results Framework were able to provide adequate data on violence against women and girls with many of these showing weak conclusions of cases.   Therefore, the launching of the African Union campaign on ending violence against women and girls is a step in the right direction. This will ensure accountability on the part of Member States in fast-tracking implementations on agreed responsibilities on issues of violence against women.

Finally, enhancing institutional capacity to advocate on these issues remains essential. I am glad to see that the institutionalization of the office of the Special Envoy on women’s peace and security is on the agenda of today’s meeting. Over the years, we have made progress in ensuring that the Member States adopt policies and frameworks that enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Office has also supported the vision of the African Union and the Commission Chairperson in driving accountability and engaging much more efficiently with women leaders.  Still, there is more to be done in the delivery of these commitments. We can still count how many women are able to attain leadership positions, and the lasting effects of wars on women and girls on the continent is still very evident. The institutionalisation of the office will mirror the commitment by the leadership within the African Union and within the Commission to continue to empower various units to push towards the goal despite the challenges. This is important because progress will be impossible without that level of ownership at the highest level within our institutions.

As I end my statement, I would like to congratulate the Bureau for serving as leaders on this very important topic. In that spirit,  I call for sustained leadership to address the WPS Agenda to ensure that women are not left behind, particularly in this period when the world has hit a reset button and is bracing for a new normal. Women will need enhanced access to digital technology for faster responses to security threats and adapted support to communities for inclusive and sustained peace.

I thank you