The Parliamentarian 2020: Issue Two - Commonwealth Parliaments respond to COVID-19

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VIEW FROM THE COMMONWEALTH WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS

STRATEGIES TAKING PLACE IN THE CWP AFRICA REGION TO ENSURE GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT View from the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) This year (2020) marks the 25th Anniversary of Namibia (42.7%), Mozambique (41.2%), Tanzania the Beijing Platform for Action and is therefore a (36.9%) and Uganda (34.8%). There are, however, significant year in the advancement of Gender Parliaments with percentages of women even lower Equality worldwide. Several milestones on than 20% which include; Botswana (10.77%), Eswatini Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (9.59%), Ghana (13.09%), Nigeria (3.43%), Sierra on Global, Regional and National levels have Leone (12.33%) and Zambia (16.77%). Nevertheless, been achieved, namely; 20 years of the United it is important to acknowledge that, the number of Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR No. women MPs in the CWP Africa Region on average 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (2000), the has increased from 25.75% in 2015 to 27.5% in 10th Anniversary of UN Women (in July 2020) and 2020, which is slightly above the global average the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, percentage of 24.5%. specifically containing Sustainable Development Statistics in Nigeria reflect a slight increase in the CWP International ViceGoal 5 on gender equality. number of women in Parliament following election Chairperson and CWP Africa Amongst the many milestones this year, at tribunal victories arising from 2019 election petitions. Region Chairperson, Hon. Dr the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians In the Federal House of Representatives in Nigeria, Zainab Gimba, MP (Nigeria) (CWP) Africa Regional level was the AU Strategy the number of women Members of Parliament for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for the period increased to 13 in total, while the Nigerian Senate recorded its 8th of 2018-2028, which set forth a plan to realize Aspiration 6 of the female Senator. Although this appears to be a seemingly small African Union’s Agenda 2063. Different strategies and resolutions victory, it is a big gain for the women of Nigeria. have therefore been put in place to ensure that gender equality Subsequently, I commend those Parliaments which have seen and women’s empowerment is achieved across all sectors - i.e. in increases in the numbers of women MPs, resulting from a number of economic, social, political and in decision-making bodies. initiatives and affirmative action policies, including gender quotas. Notably, the CWP Africa Region has also taken an important step This practice should be encouraged for other countries to adopt the towards increasing the number of women Members of Parliament same policies. Transformative policies, leading to accelerated and in national Parliaments. The number of women in some Parliaments irreversible change on a broad scale, remain necessary. have exceeded the Beijing target of at least 30% women Members, It is an unfortunate reality that women are far more likely than men including the Parliaments of Rwanda (61.2%), South Africa (46.2%), to live in extreme poverty and remain significantly underrepresented in decision-making roles and leadership roles across all sectors. Subsequently, women and girls continue to experience multiple forms of discrimination based on age, class, ethnicity and race, and it is important to recognise this fact all year round. In this regard, the CWP Africa Region through our national Parliaments must work to ensure that our Governments uphold their commitments to gender equality, including such obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063. In acknowledging the importance of the increase of women in decision-making bodies through affirmative actions, it is important to also look beyond descriptive representation. Progress should be made on substantive representation to translate the gains of the increase, into changing the status and lives of women at large. On International Women’s Day 2020 (8th March), I urged all CWP Branches in the Africa Region to continue striving for girls and women rights by pushing for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. Moreover, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, I feel is necessary to emphasise that, ‘gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society,

“Notably, the CWP Africa Region has also taken an important step towards increasing the number of women Members of Parliament in national Parliaments. The number of women in some Parliaments have exceeded the Beijing target of at least 30% women Members, including the Parliaments of Rwanda (61.2%), South Africa (46.2%), Namibia (42.7%), Mozambique (41.2%), Tanzania (36.9%) and Uganda (34.8%).”

92 | The Parliamentarian | 2020: Issue Two | 100 years of publishing 1920-2020


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