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Editorial.

The African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)'s programming conference and general assembly, which took place in August 6-8 in Nairobi, was "a wake up call for African women to constructively examine what the women's movement has gained so far" said Kenyan Member of Parliament, Honourable Njoki Ndungu during the keynote address. "African women have made advances, no doubt." This, she added, is a testament of the determination of African feminists and gender activists to keep the movement growing with the times, The three-day conference was attended by delegates from 19 countries in Africa. They examined the gains, losses and the gaps within the African women's movement.

FEMNET evolved during the United Nations (UN) decade for women (1976-1985) to provide an interface between civil society organisations working on women's advancement and decision-makers in governments and international agencies. FEMNET choose communication and networking as toots to liaise with key stakeholders. Since its inception in 1988, FEMNET has played a leadership role for African women's NGOs at regional and international decision-making and policy fora. FEMNET was the focal point from 1993-95 during African women's NGOs preparations for participation in the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It has continued to collaborate with African women's NGOs on follow-up activities to the Beijing NGO Forum, the parallel intergovernmental conference and the Beijing Plus Five review process through engaging with the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Other gains for the network include advocacy activities which seek to make policy-making and policy-enforcement mechanisms gender-responsive in terms of improving women's representation and engendering both their content and their processes. Most notable within the region has been its lobbying to mainstream gender in all structures of the African Union (AU). As a result, the Assembly of Heads of State of the AU ensured that there is 50 percent representation of women in its commission and also approved the creation of a Gender Promotion Directorate in the Office of the Chairperson to coordinate all activities and programmes of the Commission. The AU further agreed that the recruitment of senior administrative, professional and technical staff of the Commission must uphold the principle of gender equality. In 2003 five women were elected to the AU's Commission, and adopted the Protocol the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

FEMNET has also successfully established a network of men against gender-based violence. The network includes men's groups from Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia, and South Africa and aims to build the capacity of male advocates for gender equality in Africa. Another gain has been FEMNET's contribution to international processes like the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). FEMNET is a representative of civil society organisations in the WSIS Africa Bureau, and is a founding member of the African Civil Society Caucus as well as the two WSIS gender advocacy initiatives, the NGO Gender Strategies Group and the Gender Caucus.

FEMNET's pursuance of acceptance of feminism in women's human rights, gender and development in an African context has also met its challenges. The lack of women's involvement in peace processes was cited by the participants as one of the major challenges as well as globalisation and market-based economies, which have increased African women's vulnerability. Others included violence against women, gender- blind development programmes and economic reform measures, increased tokenism of women in decision-making processes and the lack of African states' commitment to the application of regional and international instruments and agreements, which guarantee the protection, prevention and promotion of women's human rights. The multiplicity of legal systems in Africa, also constitutes a major challenge to the protection of women's human rights. The conference appreciated the role of pro-gender movements in Africa but noted that there is an urgent need to lobby proactively to overcome the challenges facing the African feminist movement to ensure that our governments translate women's human rights agreements into meaningful, regional national and local actions.

La Conference de Programmation et de Communication de FEMNET, qui a eu lieu du 6 au 8 aout a Nairobi, a servi d'un "appel aux femmes africaines de se reveiller et d'examiner de maniere constructive les exploits que le mouvement feminin africain a realises jusque la", declarait un Membre du Parlement kenyan, Son Honorable Njoki Ndungu. "Cela ne fait aucun doute, les femmes africaines ont fait des progres". Ceci, a-t-elle ajoute, temoigne de la determination des feministes africaines et des militantes de genre de maintenir le mouvement sur une note de croissance et de changement avec le temps. Des delegues venus de 19 pays africains qui participaient a cette conference de trois jours ont examine les gains, les pertes et les lacunes du mouvement feministe africain. FEMNET a ete institue des suites de la Decennie de la femme de I'ONU (1976-1985) par le souci de creer une interface entre les organisations de la societe civile travaillant dans le cadre de la promotion de la femme et les faiseurs de decisions des gouvernements, des agences internationales et parmi les organisations de la societe civile. FEMNET a choisi la communication et le reseautage comme outils lui permettant de jouer son role de liaison avec les principaux acteurs. Depuis son institution en 1988, FEMNET a joue le role de leadership des ONG des femmes africaines aux forums regionaux et internationaux de formulation de politiques et de prises de decisions. De 1993 a 1995, FEMNET a ete le point focal durant les preparatifs des ONG des femmes africaines en vue de leur participation dans la Quatrieme conference mondiale de la femme qui a eu lieu a Beijing en 1995. Le reseau a egalement poursuivi, en collaboration avec d'autres ONG feminines, les activites de surveillance du Forum des ONG sur Beijing, de la conference intergouvernementale parallele et des comites de planification technique des Comites preparatoires africains et mondiaux du processus de revision de Beijing plus cinq et de la participation a la Commission de la Condition de la Femme de I'ONU.

D'autres gains realises par le reseau comprennent des activites de plaidoyer, dont la visee est de parvenir a faire prendre le genre en consideration dans les mecanismes de formulation et d'application des politiques notamment en termes de la representation des femmes et de la prise en compte du genre dans leurs contenu et processus. Le recentrage de genre dans toutes les structures de l'Union africaine (UA) a fait l'objet de travaux intenses dans la region. Ces travaux ont abouti a l'institution d'une representation de 50% de femmes par l'Assemblee des Chefs d'etats qui a aussi approuve la creation d'une Direction de la Promotion de Genre au bureau de la Presidente pour coordonner toutes les activites et programmes de la Commission. D'autre part, L'UA a accepte de respecter le principe de l'egalite de genre dans le recrutement des cadre administratif, professionnel et technique. En 2003, cinq femmes ont ete elues a la Commission de I'UA ; ensuite, I'UA a adopte le Protocole de la Charte africaine sur les droits de la Personne et des Peuples relatifs aux droits de la femme en Afrique. En ce qui concerne les partenariats, FEMNET a reussi a etablir un reseau d'hommes luttant contre la violence de genre. Ce reseau comprend des groupes d'hommes du Malawi, du Kenya, de la Namibie, de I'Ethiopie, de la Zambie et de l'Afrique du Sud. II a pour visee de supporter et d'aider les militants males a acquerir des competences dans le domaine de l'egalite entre les sexes en Afrique.

FEMNET participe et travaille aussi dans des instances internationales telles que le Sommet Mondial sur la Societe de l'Information (SMSI). FEMNET represente les organisations de la societe civile au Bureau Afrique du SMSI et est l'un des membres fondateurs du Caucus Africain de la Societe Civile, ainsi que des deux initiatives de plaidoyer sur le genre, a savoir le groupe strategique des ONG de genre et le Caucus de genre.

Mais FEMNET a aussi connu des difficultes dans son travail de plaidoyer dans le cadre du feminisme des droits de la femme africaine, de genre et de developpement en Afrique. Les participants ont identifie le manque de participation des femmes dans le processus de la paix comme l'un des defis et des consequences negatives de la mondialisation et de l'economie de marches ; ce facteur, qui constitue un defi complexe, a aussi augmente la vulnerabilite des femmes africaines. D'autres difficultes auxquelles FEMNET a du faire face sont la violence de genre, des mesures de reformes economiques et d'institution de programmes insensibles au genre, la pratique de plus en plus courante de nommer des femmes aux postes de prise de decision pour la forme, le manque d'engagement des Etats Africains en ce qui concerne la mise en oeuvre des instruments et des accords nationaux, regionaux et internationaux et qui garantissent la protection, la prevention et la promotion des droits humains de la femme. La multiplicite des systemes legaux en Afrique, et le manque de capacites et de ressources a l'interieur du mouvement, constituent des defis majeurs a la protection des droits de la femme. La conference a apprecie le role de mouvements africains pro-genre, mais a note qu'il est absolument urgent de lobby de maniere pro-active pour relever tous les defis qui se posent au mouvement feministe africain afin d'assurer une mise en oeuvre effective des accords sur les droits de la femme au niveau local, regional et international.
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Publication:Femnet News
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:1562
Previous Article:Fifth World Conference on Women.
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