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Editorial.

The African Union (AU) came into being after two thirds of the members of the AU signed the Constitutive Act of the AU in July 2001. It was formally launched in Durban, South Africa in July 2002, replacing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Women were virtually absent from the structures of the OAU, holding no positions of influence within the OAU during its 39 years of existence. A notable departure from the OAU is therefore the inclusion of principles of democracy, gender equality, good governance, human rights and rule of law in the Constitutive Act of the AU.

In line with the outcomes of the Beijing Plus Five review process and intensified efforts at regional integration, FEMNET, in collaboration with other pan-African networks, has been increasingly focusing its advocacy work at the regional level on the AU (1). Four consultations among African women's networks and organisations have been held, from which were issued the Durban Declaration (2002), the Dakar Strategy (2003), the Maputo Declaration (2003) and the Nairobi Action Plan (2003).

The consultations resulted in recommendations for gender mainstreaming and women's political participation in all structures of the AU and its specialised mechanisms, strategies, entry points for more long-term work on gender and a collaborative and collective advocacy plan to implement the strategies identified.

As a result of advocacy by the African women's movement and other pan-African CSOs, the AU Assembly of Heads of States and Government has taken several decisions on gender mainstreaming as indicated below. The Assembly in 2002 decided that the Commission of the AU, which will drive the agenda of the AU, would have 50 percent representation of women. Noting that gender cuts across all the portfolios of the Commission, the Assembly approved establishment of the Women, Gender and Development Directorate in the Office of the Chairperson to coordinate all activities and programmes of the Commission. If was further agreed that the recruitment of senior administrative, professional and technical staff of the Commission must uphold the principles of gender equality.

The Assembly in 2003 called for the elaboration of a policy and a declaration on gender to inspire, inform and put in place within the AU a framework that will handle gender issues and guide the activities undertaken by the Commission as well as by Member States. The Summit also called for the creation of a coordination framework for the integration and the rationalisation of gender issues within the AU Commission and other organs, among the Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The Summit further mandated the Commission to initiate a process aiming at operationalising the African Women's Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD), particularly its smooth integration into AU structures.

Furthermore, the Assembly adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa that the African women's movement had lobbied for from 1995 to 2003. The Protocol ensures conformity between standards set by the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Eradication of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and those of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).

In 2004 the Assembly included in its agenda a session on gender leading to the adoption of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa that will ensure implementation of various decisions taken by the Assembly including annual reports on the status of implementation through the office of the Chairperson of the AU. The Assembly also approved the Statutes of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Council (ECOSOCC). This will facilitate the launch of ECOSOCC before the end Of the year as an advisory organ of the AU composed of different social and professional groups.

This issue of Our Rights is thus dedicated to the outcomes of the AU Summit 2004 on gender, ECOSOCC and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. We hope that you will use the information as you work with your governments at various levels to ensure that African women realise development, equality and other human rights.

(1) The other pan-African networks include: Abantu for Development, African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), the African Leadership Forum (ALF), Akina Mama was Afrika, Equality Now, the Federation of African Women in Education (FAWE), Femme Africa Solidarite (FAS), the Forum for Community Development (FDC) and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF)

Mary Wandia, Advocacy Officer, FEMNET

EDITORIAL

'Union Africaine (UA) a ete instituee en juillet 2001 par la signature de son Acre constitutif par les deuxtiers des membres de l'ancienne Organisation de l'Unite Africaine (OUA). L'UA a officiellement demarre Durban en Afrique du Sud en juillet 2002 en remplacement de l'OUA. Les femmes etaient totalement absentes des structures de la defunte OUA, n'occupant aucun poste d'influence dans l'organisation pendant ses 39 ans d'existence. Une difference majeure par rapport a l'OUA est donc l'inclusion des principes de democratie, d'egalite de sexe, de bonne gouvernance et le respect de l'Acte constitutif de l'UA.

Conformement aux resultats du processus d'evaluation de Beijing + 5 et en raison de l'intensification des efforts en vue de l'integration regionale, FEMNET, en collaboration avec d'autres reseaux pan-africains1, oriente de plus en plus ses activites de plaidoyer regional sur l'Union Africaine (UA) (1). Quatre sessions consultatives regroupant des reseaux et organisations de femmes africaines ont ete organisees par la Declaration de Durban (2002), la Strategie de Dakar (2003), la Declaration de Maputo (2003) et le Plan d'action de Nairobi (2003).

Les consultations ont abouti aux recommandations sur l'integration de genre et a la participation politique des femmes dans toutes les structures de l'UA et ses mecanismes specialises, a la mise en place de strategies et de points d'entree pour un travail de plus longue duree sur le genre ainsi qu'a un plan d'action concerte de plaidoyer pour mettre en place les strategies identifiees.

Suite au plaidoyer du mouvement des femmes africaines et d'autres organisations de la societe civile, la Conference a pris plusieurs decisions sur l'integration de genre comme indique plus loin. En 2002, la Conference des chefs d'etats et de gouvernement a decide que la Commission de l'UA, qui en dressera le programme, aura une representation de 50 % de femmes. Notant que les questions de genre touchent tous les portefeuilles de la Commission, la Conference a approuve la creation de la Direction de "Genre" au sein du cabinet du President dans le but de coordonner toutes les activites et programmes de la Commission. Il etait en outre convenu que le recrutement de cadres administratifs principaux, professionnels et techniques de la Commission serait fait en fonction du principe de l'egalite entre les hommes et les femmes.

En 2003, l'Conference a demande l'elaboration d'une politique et d'une declaration sur le genre permettant d'inspirer, d'informer et de mettre en place a l'interieur de l'UA, une structure qui s'occupera des questions de genre et guidera les activites de la Commission et des Etats membres. Le Sommet a demande la creation d'une structure chargee de coordonner l'integration et la rationalisation de l'egalite entre les hommes et les femmes au sein de la commission de l'UA et d'autres organes, notamment des Etats membres et des Communautes economiques regionales. D'autre part le Sommet a donne a la commission le mandat d'initier un processus qui s'efforcera de faire fonctionner la Commission des femmes africaines sur la paix et le developpement, particulierement de veiller a faciliter son integration dans les structures de l'UA.

En outre, a Maputo, la Conference a egalement adopte le Protocole a la Charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des populations relatif aux droits de la femme africaine autour duquel les mouvements de femmes africaines ont axe leurs activites de pression de 1995 a 2003. Les dispositions du protocole garantissent la conformite des previsions entre les normes de la Commission sur les Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples et les normes etablies par la Plate forme d'Action de Beijing, la Convention contre toutes les formes de discrimination faites a l'egard des femmes, et les dispositions de la Commission africaine sur les droits de l'homme et des peuples.

En 2004, la Conference a inscrit une session sur le genre dans son ordre du jour, ouvrant ainsi la voie a l'adoption de la Declaration solennelle sur l'egalite entre les hommes et les femmes en Afrique qui permettra l'application de plusieurs decisions prises par la Conference, y compris les rapports annuels sur la situation de la mise en ceuvre a travers le bureau de la Presidente de l'UA. La Conference a aussi approuve les Statuts du Conseil economique, social et culturel. Cela permettra le lancement, avant la fin de l'annee, du Conseil economique, social et culturel, comme un organe consultatif de l'UA compose de groupes professionnels et sociaux varies.

Cette edition de 'Nos Droits' est donc consacree aux resultats du Sommet de l'UA de 2004 sur le genre, au Conseil economique, culturel et social et au Protocole des Femmes Africaines a la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples. Nous esperons que vous mettrez a profit les informations recueillies dans ce bulletin, dans les actions que vous menerez avec vos gouvernements a tous les niveaux, pour la promotion, l'egalire et d'autres droits humains des femmes.

(1) Les uatres reseaux panafricains concernes sont: Abantu for Development, African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (AACORD), le centre africain de etudes sur la Democratie et les Droits de l'Homme (ACDHRS), le African Leadership Forum (ALF), Akina Mama wa Afrika, Equality Now, la Federation des educatrices africaines (FAWE), Femme Africa Solidarite (FAS), le Forum du Developpement Communautaire (FDC) et Women in Law and Development in Africa (Femmes Juristes et Developpement en Afrique)

Mary Wandia, Chargee de Plaidoyer, FEMNET
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Title Annotation:African Union
Author:Wandia, Mary
Publication:Our Rights
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:1627
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