Change requires action, not talk shop; GIMAC conference 

06Feb 2020
Kenneth Simbaya
The Guardian
Change requires action, not talk shop; GIMAC conference 

​​​​​​​TRANSLATING frameworks and policies into actions is one of the biggest challenges thwarting ‘Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC)’ as well as African Union (AU) Member States from realizing the desired results.

Executive Director Forum For African Women Education (FAWE) Martha Muhwezi.

This was revealed during the two-day GIMAC 35th conference, themed: “Silencing Guns Beyond 2020: Recognizing and Amplifying Women and Girls’ Agency to Silence the Guns in Africa.”

The conference took place at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) complex in Addis Ababa Ethiopia from February 3-4.

According to GIMAC chairperson  and Executive Director Forum For African Women Education (FAWE) Martha Muhwezi,  African countries are not in shortage of policies and frameworks, the only challenge hindering progress on various commitments made, is lack of translating the very policies and frameworks into tangible actions.

“We have been talking and talking and talking,” lamented the GIMAC Chairperson, citing an example of implementation of the United Nations Resolution 1325.

The Security Council adopted resolution S/RES/1325 on women and peace and security on 31 October 2000, among other things, urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.

The 35th GIMAC conference besides Silencing Guns agenda, also explored  on other interlocked gender related issues that affect women and girls human rights, like sexual and reproductive health (SRH) specifically speaking louder on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) against women and girls, harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM), and HIV and AIDS, urging for change of the status quo that discriminate against women and girls, which is pervasive in most African countries, insisting that gender equality should be at the heart of African countries development processes.  

“Despite the fact that substantive progress has been made in tackling maternal, newborn and child mortality, but there are still significant areas of concern relating to access to quality essential health services including sexual and reproductive health services, nutrition, gender-based violence and discrimination which are all contributing factors that limit the ability of women and girls to realize their human rights and health,” one panelist at the conference said.

 “Many African countries are not doing well in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), un-silenced guns complicates realization of the development goals, including those agreed by AU Member states as contained in agenda 2063,”  said Muonyelu Adaeze Chidinma, a GIMAC youth champion delegate from Nigeria Young Women Christian Association (YWCA).

This year’s GIMAC theme, according to Cecilia Shirima, a youth delegate from Young and Alive Tanzania, is important to young women in many ways, it provides them with networks to leverage on and provides young people with an avenue for learning important skills which they need to be successful in their lives.

 “The success of the mother is the success of the family,” said Cecilia.  

One way of driving the accountability needed to translate plans into actions, according Joyce Malenge, from Action Aid Tanzania, is ensuring gender equality, women are known for their zeal and optimization of their potential whenever given space, but due to big scale discrimination and violation of women and girls human rights, they are undervalued and denied space to flourish and blossom.

“If you asked men and women, on whether a country should go to war or not? The likelihood of men voting yes is huge,” Malenge said, adding: “Women would not easily support confrontation, women love peace.”