Africa needs to come up with firm action on women empowerment and gender equality and ensure that there are full and equal rights for both males and females in law and in practice, officials said Thursday.
“We cannot build strong and dynamic African economies, if women and girls, who form the majority of the population, remain excluded in spheres of development. We need firm action and commitment to achieve gender equality,” Diana Ofwona, regional director of UN Women Office for West and Central Africa, said at the opening session of a gender conference in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.
Whatever interventions being made to promote gender equality, they must not come at the cost of disfranchising men and boys, Ofwona said at the two-day event organized by the Rwandan government, UN and the Smart Africa secretariat.
The event brought together officials from the Rwandan government and UN, members of civil society and academia, gender activists and the private sector to discuss gender mainstreaming efforts in Africa.
Despite some of the efforts made with regards to gender equality and the empowerment of women, Africa still has a long way to go, said Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, Zambia’s former ambassador to the United States.
There is a need to act and show commitment to bridge this gap, she said.
She added that African governments must acknowledge that the implementation of gender equality has been too slow and uneven, and more efforts are needed to accelerate progress across the continent.
Political will by African leaders and policy makers is very key to achieving gender equality in social, political and economic areas in Africa, according to Protais Musoni, Chair of Pan African Movement’ Rwanda chapter.
“It is even more urgent than ever that we ensure that gender equality is fully achieved as Africa focuses on agenda 2063,” he noted.