Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Special Correspondent
The following is a statement by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, on International Women’s Day.
I salute my fellow women on this 105th International Women’s Day.
Happy International Women’s Day! I also wish to congratulate and thank the men who have joined us today to be part of our celebrations.
As you know, this event is celebrated on March 8 in many countries around the world.
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the determination of women around the world to fight for equal rights and the opportunity to have their voices heard.
International Women’s Day is therefore a global day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women.
There is indeed a great deal to celebrate today, in terms of the progress we have made in pushing for the Gender Agenda in Africa.
Access to education has increased for girls at all levels; governments in many countries are taking steps to protect women and girls from violence, including by adopting new laws; and many countries have put in place legislation to promote women’s rights including access to land.
More women are exercising leadership in politics and business; and we have witnessed a transformation of women’s participation in public life.
Fifteen African states rank in the top 30 – seven among world classification for women’s participation in national parliaments with more than 30 percent.
These include, among others: Rwanda (63,8 percent), Seychelles (43,8 percent), Senegal (42,7 percent), South Africa (42 percent), Namibia (41 percent), Mozambique (39,60 percent), Ethiopia (38,8 percent), Angola (36,8 percent), Burundi (36,4 percent), Uganda (35,0 percent), Algeria (31 percent), Zimbabwe (31,5 percent), Tunisia (31,3 percent), Cameroon (31,3 percent), Sudan (30,5 percent), Tunisia (31,3 percent), Cameroon (31,1 percent), and Burundi (30,5 percent).
The AU’s IWD commemoration theme for this year is “Agenda 2063: A Pledge for Gender Equality”.
This choice is guided by the UN and IWD themes of “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” and “Pledge for Parity” as well as recent calls during the 8th Gender Pre-Summit and the AU 26th Summit to accelerate the pace of implementation of actions in support of the continent’s gender agenda.
This year, being the African Union Year of Human Rights with a specific focus on the Rights of Women, provides yet another opportunity to celebrate African women, while also highlighting issues of concern, such as persistent gender inequalities that hinder women from fully enjoying their human rights.
AUC’s efforts to promote gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment are indeed taking root.
Great strides have been made to redress the gender imbalances.
However, a lot more still needs to be done by both African women and men of goodwill to dismantle the gender barriers and ensure that African women’s potential is realised.
As you know, women are key contributors to global economies and play a critical role in the development of their societies.
Without the equal and effective participation of women in all spheres of socio-political and economic life, the vision of agenda 2063 might not be realised.
International Women’s Day is indeed a call to action. I therefore call on all of Africa to implement at least two high-impact actions in 2016 that support gender equality and women’s empowerment in furtherance of Agenda 2063.
I wish you all a memorable International Women’s Day. – African Union Commission.