African marriages in the United States

 

Oko Elechi and Alaba Oludare

 

 

One of the best kept secrets in our community is the state of our marriages, according to one popular Pentecostal Church pastor in Houston Texas.  The obstacles facing African marriages in the United States is legion according to this pastor who I believe is in a position to know. He has the unenviable responsibility of counseling many couples and arbitrates on several marital conflicts in a given year. The marriage institution is perhaps the most important institution in the society and this is even more so for Africans that are communal. Again, Africans are by nature notoriously religious. Our religious beliefs do not encourage divorce and even frown at people who choose to live their lives single. Having children out of wedlock attracts a big stigma. And yet no one is talking about this problem and the couples are left to their own devices in dealing with the additional challenges marriages face in America for African immigrants with disastrous consequences. I believe the time has come for us to address this matter and have this long over-due conversation about the state of our marriages. Modern marriages, it is important to observe are fraught with challenges. Marriages among African immigrants in the United States have even bigger hurdles to cross as it may seem. If anecdotal accounts is anything to go by, more than fifty percent of African marriages in America have issues. Many are dysfunctional, some end in divorce eventually, and there have been few cases of the marital conflicts leading to fatality.

Some of my sources tell me money is a major source of marital conflict among African immigrants in America.  The root of this financial pressure derives from gender roles in African culture. African males were typically the bread winners and were able to decide how the family money was spent. In America, the women are also working and making money. And yet some of the men insist in controlling the money and in determining how the money will be spent. Added to this challenge is the expectations of families back home in Africa. Some of them expect that when their children – including the women are in America that they should be repatriating some of their earnings to support family upkeep and projects. If the money matter is not handled well, it can cause a big problem for the couple.

Another source of marital conflict is time, which is also tied to the monetary palaver. Some of the African immigrants have more than one jobs that keep them so busy that they hardly have time for one another. What this means is that couples are too busy for one another and are often too tired at the end of the day to show affection for one another. The resulting consequences is the lack of affection and distrust. Busyness is one reason some people stray. It is also why some question their partners love and commitment to them. There is no doubt we need a reorientation on how to balance work and family.   Investing more quality time into our relationships is important and can improve communication and understanding which is essential for a happy marriage.

Our penchant for materialism – big houses and cars both here and back home in Africa remains a big problem that undermines our marriages and family interests. We strive always to own bigger and better things than our compatriots often at the expense of our well-being and that of our families. Many even invest so much in a house that they may not likely live in or their children stand any chance of inheriting them. A friend of mine once describe the big houses we build back home, that we do not plan to live in or pass over to our children as “funeral homes”. This is because, the more realistic case for some is that they will be buried in the houses if the pas on. This is not wise and definitely takes from us things that are more important. We need to focus more on what matters most such as our health and emotional well-being. That will also improve the quality of our marriages. What is the point of owning a big car and big house if the additional cost is our well-being and happiness.

Marital infidelity remains a big problem in our community. Some even wrongly equate our polygamous culture with infidelity. It is true that some African cultures do allow and even encourage polygamous marriages. However, I do not know of any African culture that condones sex outside of marriages. Infidelity is a big problem that threatens the foundations of marriages. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be an easy answer to this problem. Self-discipline, maturity and focusing on things that have more value and family interest, no doubt well help.

Infertility, despite our living in a scientific society is also an issue that threatens our marriages. Rather than seek medical help from the appropriate quarters, some African couples will start pointing fingers at one another. Where there is love, maturity and sensitivity, answers to infertility in marriages can easily be addressed with satisfying results in my humble opinion.

There is also no denying the fact that some of us are stuck in our ways and often resisting any attempt to adjust the way we view the world. For example, some of us hold strongly to our understanding of what the gender roles are. This is unfortunate, especially given the fact that both the husband and wife in most cases work outside the homes and sometimes even for long hours. To expect that the woman will return from work and have your favorite food ready most of the time might seem unrealistic. The same can also be said of the wife who expects the husband to foot all the bills in the house while she uses her own money for something else that does not advance the welfare of the family can also constitute part of the marital problem.

finally, we can also learn some of the values of our host community. They make time to celebrate their marriage and love. They also in addition to showing love to their better halves, also verbally express their love often to their spouses. I do not know who does not like to hear you look good today. You smell nice. I love you and all the niceties that bring excitement to the heart. Please note that in delving into this sensitive topic, the goal was not to prescribe solutions because I do not think there are easy answers. Rather, my intention is to bring awareness and provoke conversation of the state of marriages in our community.

 

Sexual Violence And Trends In Lagos State Higher Institutions

 

By

 

Damilola Adeoye

 

The increasing trend of sexual assault of female students in higher institutions of learning in Lagos State as replete in media reportages is disheartening. More worrisome is the apathetic attitude school authorities display on such problem considering the botched way cases of sexual violence are handled. In a lot of incidents, no stringent actions are taken against perpetrators of rape of female students who are usually the male members of the academic staff and students. Reason for this is not farfetched, Nigeria as a society is enmeshed in a patriarchal system. In simple term, a man can denigrate a woman without a collective challenge by his fellow men.

According to a recent baseline media monitoring conducted under the project title: Mainstreaming Gender Reporting on Affirmative Action of Women and Girls Rights Issues by Journalists for Christ (JFC) Nigeria, it was observed that there is a preference for men to be quoted as sources over women in issues that concern women. This only poses a critical thought that if the presence of women as sources in media reports is low especially in issues that relate to them, does this not indicate an infringement on their basic right to defend themselves? This observation distinctly reveals the triviality accorded women in Nigeria media.

Due to reprisal attacks ranging from threat of failing a female victim by lecturers to physical violence; even death by other culprits, most cases go unreported. The shame of being stigmatized and lack of information to access justice are also factors. Though an academic terrain, where victims and culprits are supposed to know the consequences and laws guiding sexual violence, the traditional practices of keeping mum in a male-dominated environment still seeps its way through the walls of these higher institutions of learning. Most students in tertiary institutions in Lagos State are not even aware of the legal repercussions of committing sexual violence crimes, they do not know that these crimes can lead to life imprisonment, hence, offenders can always go free and brag about their actions consequently stoking negatively the fire of this sinister act. The schools are also culpable in these crimes because most of them do not have detailed rules to resolve sexual violence crimes and their attendant issues.

Female students on school campuses had been accused of indecent dressing making them susceptible to sexual assault, thus, the resultant rape cases. However, no excuse in any form should be accepted as a reason to sexually violate a woman. Sexual violence is a violation of women’s rights; it portends health problems such as those causing victims to contract the deadly HIV. Reports have revealed that increase in HIV developed from sexual violence cases, and the emotional pain caused by this health issue is also a form of violence.

Conversely, female students who are considered vulnerable to sexual crimes are not the only victims; male lecturers have accused the women of sexually seducing them in order to gain good grades. When they do not comply, the female students usually resort to blackmail. Some male lectures have even complained of threats of rape by female students who seek academic favours and this situation makes them feel insecure on school campuses. Similarly, female lecturers have also been accused of sexually harassing young male students.

In order to curb cases of sexual violence on campuses of tertiary institutions in Lagos State, The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) recently began various sensitization and enlightenment campaign across the city.  This is in addition to  the massive actions been taken by other women and gender based organizations to address Gender based violence in Lagos state .

The need to especially focus on curbing sexual violence  and indeed Gender based violence in higher institutions of learning in Nigeria  cannot be overemphasized.  It is therefore imperative for civil society organizations and all stakeholders  to extend their advocacy to tertiary institutions to  enable a peaceful environment for students to be  educated in order to fulfill their potentials in  life.

 

Damilola Adeoye holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Botany from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye,Ogun State.  She  works with Centre for 21st Century Issues and coordinates the organizations projects on women’s rights and environment including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

 

Gender Based Violence Among Nigerian Immigrants in Southwest Houston

 

By Dr. Alaba Oludare

 

The Greater Houston area has been identified by the U.S. Department of States to have the highest number of Nigerian immigrants. About 150,000 Nigerians live in Houston as of 2014. Although most of these families are very progressive and highly educated, the problem of gender based violence plagues the community.  Research on gender based violence among African communities has been very scarce, hence little is known about the challenges faced by women particularly in these communities. Although men are also likely victims and do suffer gender based violence, research has shown that male victims of gender violence are often  those in an intimate partner relationship with an American citizen especially for green card reasons where the gender roles are played differently based on cultural differences of the partners.  The discourse here is  focused on gender based violence among  Nigerians in diaspora.

Some of the reasons advanced for gender based violence in these families include stress, economic hardships, social and cultural expectations, third party interventions and mental/ psychological or spiritual problems.  Often, migrants are faced with the challenge of balancing the traditional gender roles with the realities of lifestyles in the western world. Generally, females acquire an enhanced sense of independence; the males are faced with a diminished perception of power and control. In the family’s quest to attain the American dream and possibly take care of people at home, both partners go out to work long hours. Sometimes, the female works longer than the male; and sometimes the males are either unemployed or under employed yet the female is still required to come back after prolonged hours of work to cook, clean up and perform other duties while responsibility for bills and upkeep are shared. Many Nigerian women especially those in the Nursing field have died due to pressure, ill-health or physical violence (including being stabbed, shot, strangled, scaled with hot liquids etc.) because of the conflicts arising from these roles.

Unfortunately, gender based violence is largely unreported for many reasons and particularly, because of cultural beliefs that, “you don’t go to court or police and come back home as friends” and patriarchal hierarchy where the male is accorded a superior position in the marriage relationship. Patriarchal hierarchy is not uniquely Nigerian so that some critics have argued that it is not a license for abuse in a relationship.  Reportedly, most women‘s approach at resolving the dilemma is first to report to family members and or close friends. The next step is usually to report to religious leaders.  Unfortunately, these strategies are often unsuccessful and the woman is viewed as a prostitute, disrespectful or proud. She is stigmatized and in some churches seen as a backslider or no longer fit to minister, she is perpetually stigmatized and shamed.

Spouses in a violent relationship should not be intimidated to seek help or even get out of danger as an alternative to being maimed or killed. All stake holders must be educated and informed about the consequences of violence on the individual, the family and society. Religious and community leaders should be trained on how to handle domestic violent cases without stigmatizing anyone. Everyone especially men should be educated on the legal consequences of domestic violence and physical assaults regarded as felony under the law. An aggressor could end in prison for any period of time from 1 to 10 years or more with fines in addition to disenfranchisement, loss of earning potentials, citizenship, student loans and other benefits. Children are the most impacted in violent homes. First, these children are learning by experience that it is alright to abuse and/or be abused, inadvertently producing a next generation of abusers.  Research has shown that first generation immigrants have lower criminal records than their children. Why is this so? Second, violence in a home is unhealthy to all both physically and spiritually.

Violent behavior is a product of anger, an inability to rule one’s emotions. It is a character flaw, and often an episode of insanity. It is self-destructive. All religions and civilization condemn manifestations of anger whether implosive or explosive. Love is a choice that God made in our favor, giving us such grace that we do not deserve. If you love your spouse, you will not beat or destroy him/her. No man in his right mind destroys what he loves rather he cherishes and seek to keep that which he loves forever in perfect condition.

 

Dr. Alaba Oludare is an Attorney and a Professor residing in the United States. She obtained her first law degree (LL.B, B.L.) from Lagos State University and Nigerian Law School. She has tertiary institution teaching experience including teaching Administration of Justice courses at Texas Southern University, teaching and coordinating the criminal justice program at Rust College, Holly Springs, MS as well as serving as the Pre Law Adviser. Alaba also has legal practice experience including Legal Advising to the Federal Road Safety Commission, and Corporate Attorney with LLM degree in Tax Law from University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; She is presently teaching criminal justice courses at Mississippi Valley State University and actively involved in health disparity research training as one of 25 scholars from different universities across the United States.

C21ST @COP23

Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) is on ground with other stakeholders who truely  belive in genuine solutions to address the menace of climate change at COP23.

C21st as a member of Women and Gender Constituency will work closely with the feminist bloc, Demand Climate Justice, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and ACCESS to influence  lobby  and advocate for a gender just outcomes from the COP23 negotiations.

C21st is committed to pursuing all the key demands of the Women and Gender constituency which includes,  adopt a robust  gender action plan, deliver on finance, Ensure climate solutions are gender just, promote energy democracy and protect ecological food systems among others.

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C21st @ the #ClimateMarch COP23

 

Already C21st has  participated in the climate march of 5th November, 2017 under the feminist bloc and also joined the climate warriors at the englande coal mine to offer prayers to the activists. C21st also participated in the WGC stategy meeting which held on 5th of November 2015.

 

WGC Strategy Meeting
WGC Strategy Meeting

 

There are other issues and vents  which are very important to move climate change work at the national level  in Nigeria which will be followed closely.  Some of them are; UNFCCC Gender Action Plan, Climate Law and Governance, climate Change and Agriculture, Sustainable Energy for All,  and climate Finance.

IMG-20171107-WA0001

C21st will be active on twitter with important tweet messages. Watch out for our #hashtags  #MindTheGap, #WomenClimateJustice, #OurSolutions and  #WomenDefendCommons

Feminist COP 23

 

 

Strengthening The Capacity of Women Organizations to Deliver on Gender and SDGs in Nigeria

 

 

 

Participants@ the training

Overtime, various attempts have been made to reduce the level of poverty in Africa, improve women’s socio-economic status, and ensure their access to land, water, sanitation and energy but it always appears no significant results have been achieved. The efforts seem not trickling down to the women on the ground

One of the programs that has enabled countries to measure the impacts of development efforts in recent times is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which has now metamorphosed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and or the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda includes 17 goals and 169 targets aimed to transform our world by eradicating poverty and any cruelty that demeans human dignity. It is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity which is expected to be achieved by year 2030. It is hoped that all countries and stakeholders acting in collaborative partnership will work towards the achievement of the SDGs without leaving anyone behind.

 

Ms Akosa Training participant

The Centre for 21st Century (C21st) and Echoes of Women in Africa (ECOWA) in partnership with Women Environmental Programme (WEP) organized a one day step down training on Gender and the SDGs. The training is part of the activities under the project “Women CSOs Networking to Realize the Sustainable Development Goals”, also called “Women2030 Project,” funded by the European Commission. The project is also being implemented in other countries of the world by other partner organizations namely: Women Engage for a common Future (WECF), Gender and Water Alliance (GWA), Global Forest Coalition (GFC), and Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

 

The workshop which held on 18th June, 2017 at the conference hall of West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) drew participation from women and gender focused NGOs, local and indigenous women  different Civil Society Organizations.

The overall objective of the workshop was to ensure that Women 2030 project builds a base in Africa that will ensure women’s needs are addressed. This was done through emphasizing the importance of gender for policy advocacy and SDGs, movement building, organizational management and the use of social media in gender and SDGs advocacy. Advocacy can be done for particular issues including the SDGs.

The training was interactive and facilitators engaged participants in group work. Skills and what participants do on SDGs were mapped out at the training. This was to help them identify their issues and take action appropriately.

 

CSOs who participated in the training  easily identified the gender and SDGs areas where their organizations have been working, the advocacy approaches they are using; which range from visible approach such as community mobilization and media campaigns to less visible approach such as advocacy letters and research.  They were also able to note the advocacy skills that stand them out and the ones they need. They expressed desire to improve their writing, mobilization, communication and research skills; all tools needed for effective advocacy on gender and SDGs. This information will enable the facilitators assist them more on the.

Apart from the fact that participants at the training were exposed to indepth knowledge on gender and SDGs and how their organizations can impact the grassroots, government and the private sector successfully, other significant features of the Women 2030 programme is to help emerging CSOs stabilize and also help with organizational development, sub-grant to those working and doing what aligns with 2030 project and those who have grafting skills in writing shadow report will be engaged.

Participating CSOs were content with the skills and awareness imbued in them in other to enable them forge alliances that will bring about the impactful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.

Ms. Damilola Adeoye

Program Officer

Centre for 21st century Issues (C21st)

 

 

 

 

Participants in group work session

 

 

Women Reject EU’s Interference In The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative

 

African women reject the European Union’s unnecessary meddling in Africa’s Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).  African women are very concerned at the manner in which some European countries, France in particular, influenced some African leaders to hastily approve projects without having a transparent process with social, environmental and gender criteria in place.

 

At a board meeting in March in Conakry, the European Commission and France in collusion with a few African countries repackaged existing European Union projects for Africa, but which did not originate from Africa, as first batch of projects to be approved by AREI.

 

The way and manner these projects were introduced and approved- by bypassing AREI’s process being developed for social and Environmental criteria- is a very negative sign, setting the entire process off on a negative footing, refusing African people’s transparent decision making, and entirely against the principles by which AREI was created.

 

African women insist that European Union cannot dictate for Africans over any issue especially the one concerning universal access to clean, appropriate and affordable energy for all.

 

Women are particularly concerned about the unnecessary interference by European Union and France particularly as it can jeopardize the noble objective of AREI in providing people-centered and gender responsive clean energy solutions capable of addressing the chronic energy poverty which affects women in Africa disproportionately.

 

African women join their voices with other Civil Society Organizations in Africa to condemn the undue interference of European Union in AREI. African women stand for a strong and independent AREI, with full and meaningful participation of women’s organizations in all levels of the decision-making processes.

 

For and on behalf of African women

 

Ms Priscilla Achakpa, Executive Director, Women Environment Program (WEP), Collette Benoudji Coordinator  Association Lead Tchad and Ms Titilope Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st)

 For further information:

Centre For 21st Century Issues (C21st)

6, Balogun Street, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

Email: titiakosa@gmail.com

 

Breaking Patriarchal Barriers for Gender Sensitive Climate Change Initiatives

On Saturday, 11th of November, the Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) and women Environment Program facilitated a skill share session on the theme: “Breaking Patriarchal Barriers for Gender Sensitive Climate Change Initiative.” The side event, which was hosted by the Global Climate Change Alliance (GGCA) Innovations Forum was attended by women and men across the globe, who participated and shared their experiences on patriarchal challenges they have in course of implementing climate change projects in the local and national context.

Climate change affects everyone, yet women among other vulnerable groups in developing and least developed countries bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change. While it is now important to start looking at ways to reduce the negative effects of climate change on women, attention is drawn to the challenges thrown up by patriarchy at different levels of climate governance. Either at the community or the global climate policy level, patriarchy continue to constitute a stumbling block to a gender just climate policy and interventions.

ggca-training
 Ms Akosa  Facilitating Skill Share Session At the GGCA Innovation Forum  

In many societies, it is a big challenge to have access to women without negotiating with community leaders who are mostly males. It is acknowledged that decision making positions and authority lies with men.Patriarchy is a system issue which manifest in almost every facet of societal life. Majority of women and men are recruited and socialized into It.

The kind of barriers posed by patriarchy for women includes inadequate access to information, limited opportunity for aspiring to decision making positions, lack of voice, representation and participation, to mention a few. Of course, these barriers in most cases leave women vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

At the global policy levels, the barriers manifest in a different form though it is still linked to patriarchal challenges identified at the local levels and the different processes. The issues of developed and the developing countries take the centre stage, women and gender issues are perceived as less important to other pressing issues of climate finance, emissions reductions and technology transfer.

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Daisy (Nigeria), Hauwa (Ghana) Titi (Nigeria) and Rose (Cameroon ) @ the Innovations Forum

However, these perceived pressing issues are issues that are not gender neutral, it affects men and women. For instance, women need climate finance to trickle down to the local levels where climate change is biting harder. Lack of finance and feminized poverty inhibits women’s adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Equally, risky and unsafe technologies must be avoided in mitigating climate change. Thus, women and gender have a place in all the issues being negotiated under the UNFCCC.

Way  Forward
As noted by the skill share facilitator, Ms Titi Akosa and other participants – ‘the patriarchal issue is a system issue and thus needs a system change to correct.

While finding ways to break barriers, women must not see it as a battle-line between men and women but as a negotiation process for change. Women should be firm but subtle about breaking barriers and push the issues of women empowerment forward.
There is need for aggressive awareness about patriarchy, its effects on women and the society at large; and its interconnections with climate change at all levels. Women should endeavour to work in unity and collaborate with men in delivering gender responsive climate projects.

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Participants @ the skill share Session

The experiences garnered by the facilitator as one of the women climate justice advocates supported by Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), advocating on behalf of women and gender in the processes leading to securing the Paris Agreement was very insightful. The facilitator and other women climate justice advocates engaged negotiators with women’s key demands, provided gender responsive texts and shared perspectives on the importance of gender just climate policy. These are best practices in women supporting each other to raise awareness in advancing women and gender issues in the negotiations.

It must however be noted that gender and women responsive climate initiatives may not always break barriers posed by patriarchy. This is very possible if projects are not well articulated to have impacts on gender relations and or aimed specifically to target barriers imposed by patriarchy against women.

Participants agreed that there is need for a deeper appreciation of the challenges imposed by patriarchy and that the challenges should be dealt with in an integrated manner to engender a supportive environment for gender equality to thrive.

 

Daisy  Alero Emoekabu

Climate Policy Researcher,

University of Kent, U. K .

 

 

 

5 Important Things to know In Engaging Women to Develop Local Gender and Social Development Action Plan

In march  2016, the Centre for 21st century issues on behalf of Educational Coperative society  facilitated   a two day workshop for the development of a 5 year Gender and social development Action plan for Itamapako Community in Ogun state of Nigeria. It was a participatory strategic planning event  aimed at engaging community women to lead in planning and addressing community basic needs that are not yet attended to. The specific objective of the workshop is to promote communal processes, which can help expand the active presence of women in concerted processes of development in Itamapako area of Ogun State.

It was a highly interactive workshop that saw the women take ownership of the process. About 36 women drawn from the 6 Communities that make up Itamapako participated in the workshop.  The women were passionate and eager to work in solidarity to move their community forward

The 5 important  things to know in the process of developing a Local Gender and Social Development Action Plan were brought to the fore during the workshop and they are;

  1. Engaging women as a groups on their own terms to identify community needs helps to bring out the real issues that requires urgent  intervention in the community-The women showed in-depth knowledge of their community, they profiled their community by giving detailed information of water sources, festivals , state of basic amenities, major economic activities, religion  and other information. They identified their needs and ranked them in order of importance.  Some of the key issues identified for urgent action are, revitalization of their abandoned market, access to portable water provision of public toilets in the community, provision of clean cook stoves and women’s human rights training for political empowerment.
  2. Women have informed opinion about community needs– The women gave articulate justification for all the issues identified. On the market issue they gave vivid account of how miscreants used to scare them away from the market by placing  fetish sacrifices at the centre of the market. They know it was the handy work of herbalist in the community supporting some groups who wants the market taken away from their community to another place.
  3. Women have the capacity to self organize and  negotiate for changes -It was interesting to see the Itamapako women provided practical solutions to all the challenges identified in the community. One of innovative strategy they came up with was to form a negotiating team made of women leaders to meet with the traditional rulers of the communities. They sighted instances of occasions where women leaders had taken up the challenge to meet with traditional rulers to speak with herbalist in the communities to stop preparing sacrifices that are placed at the market square. They were able to organize themselves to access seedlings to introduce plantain cultivation in the community.
  4. Women are ready to contribute to the development of their community-Each woman participating in the workshop made at least one  commitment to towards the successful implementation of the action plan developed. Some women volunteered to identify areas where public toilet can be situate, some volunteered to raise awareness about availability of adult literacy classes, some decided to team up with the community Development forum to monitor the repairs going on in the community  primary school, others joined the team that will clean up the market.
  5.   Women are interested in learning more about women’s right and gender mainstreaming for political empowerment In as much as the women expressed fears about  the perception and resistance from men about their political aspiration they still  voiced the need for a systemic women’s right training that will galvanize them to take appropriate step to attain political decision making positions in the community. According to them knowledge is power . They are of the opinion that their  inadequate knowledge about women’s rights issues is a stumbling block to articulating practical strategies to participate meaningfully in the political space.

    A key lesson learnt in the process is  that its  is of crucial importance to provide the space  for women to be able to voice their needs and be drivers of change that will transform their community.

Women’s Working Group Reaction to FfD Outcome Document

WOMEN’S WORKING GROUP ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT REACTION TO THE OUTCOME DOCUMENT OF THE THIRD FfD CONFERENCE

The Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD) expresses its strong disappointment with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted at the conclusion of the Third Financing for Development Conference that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 to 16 July 2015.

For feminists and women’s rights organizations, the Outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) fails to remove the global obstacles to development and to shift the balance of power in the international financial architecture in order to address systemic issues and create the conditions to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, in particular women’s rights. It fails also to acknowledge the macro-economic dimension of the unpaid domestic and care work and the need to reduce and redistribute it among the State, private sector, communities, families, men and women.

The AAAA might leave the impression to some that it is strong on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights. However, while the AAAA, importantly notes in the first paragraph a commitment to respect all human rights, including the right to development, and that member states will ensure gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, it lacks an integrated, consistent and explicit human rights based approach. The references to gender equality and women also rely on previously agreed language (i.e. Rio+20, Open Working Group (OWG) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Doha), some of which consolidate regressive formulations (i.e., as found in Paragraph 6), others rely heavily on private sector contributions to achieving gender equality (such as Para 41).

Moreover, some of the references about women’s rights in the outcome document show strong tendencies towards the instrumentalization of women (i.e. Para 21) and to financing gender equality and women’s empowerment as a means to achieve economic growth, to increase productivity and to improve economic performance. This reference is limiting, rather than realizing women’s and girls’ human rights as per the foundation of the UN.

The outcome document has seriously reduced the integrity of the Financing for Development (FfD) agenda. On several points, there has been a serious retrogression from the commitments made in Monterrey (2002) and Doha (2008). The potential of removing global obstacles to development, setting the right priorities, policies and rules for financing the SDGs/Post 2015 Development Agenda and allowing for the full implementation of other internationally agreed development agendas, including those critical for women’s rights such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Cairo Programme of Action is being severely curtailed.

The global partnership between developed and developing countries established in the Monterrey Consensus has been weakened by the developed countries through: i) their promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships, ii) their lack of commitment to address systemic issues in the United Nations (UN), iii) their inability to fully recognize and respect the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and iv) their disagreement over the establishment of an FfD Commission. While the document includes a narrative of “sustainable development”, it still relies on orthodox economic assumptions regarding growth, ‘trickle-down effects’, commodification of nature and people. The WWG on FfD flags the following key issues and demands structural changes in the global economic governance and development architecture in order to move:

  1. From ignoring systemic imbalances to creating a rights-based pro-development multilateral economic and financial architecture.
  2. From making the business case on women’s empowerment, to respecting, protecting and fulfilling women’s human rights and establishing the structural conditions to realize these rights.
  3. From creating an enabling environment to attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), promoting Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and talking “womenomics” towards safeguards, investment frameworks that have binding norms, including for Transnational Corporations, that are consistent with Human Rights.
  4. From imbalanced global trade rules to respecting developing countries policy space for productive diversification, decent work for women, and sustainable industrial policy.
  5. From taxing women in the informal economy, to progressive taxation and international tax cooperation.
  6. From using Official Development Assistance (ODA) and development cooperation, to leveraging private finance and follow donor priorities, towards untied, additional and predictable ODA and development cooperation that contributes to the respect, protection and fulfilment of gender equality, human rights and sustainable development.
  7. From “new social compacts”, towards the implementation of comprehensive and universal social protection systems and public services.
  8. From reducing the FfD agenda to the Means of Implementation of the Post 2015 Agenda, towards a robust FfD mandate and follow up mechanism that maintains the integrity of FfD commitments in order to remove global obstacles for the implementation of all internationally agreed development agendas.

As feminists and women´s human rights organizations, we reaffirm the centrality of ensuring respect, protection and fulfillment of women`s human rights also in the Financing for Development Agenda. The Forum for Financing for Development, more than ever, will be the space in which we continue to strive for structural commitments to change the current economic and financial rules, system and unequal power relations. We will keep on demanding the level of ambition needed to achieve this task from Member States, so that true actions to subvert structural inequalities are implemented

Link to Full 39-Page Addis Ababa Conference 2015 Financing for Development Outcome Document:

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/CONF.227/L.1