Brussels, BELGIUM, 11 OCTOBER 2018 (F2A) – The Social Affairs and Environment Committee of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly has praised a newly released report on the state of women rights implementation in Africa. The report lays credence to the actions taken by faith communities, among the larger civil society, in promoting change of social norms as well as legal and policy frameworks.
Speaking during a session to exchange views with Honorable Members, Temporary Chair of the Committee Hon. Anna Zaborska (EPP, Slovakia) said the committee will use the report in taking stock of commitments and progress of African countries in the Joint Parliament. The Honorable Member from Gambia stressed on the importance of governments developing programs on the basis of advancing human dignity. The Hon. Member from Malawi was happy that the success stories captured in the exchange of views included one from his country, where the Evangelical Association of Malawi uses the Ilala Ship to disseminate HIV/AIDS information and services along Lake Malawi using the caravan approach. He requested the EU to support refurbishment of a second ship to facilitate the provision of services and information. The Right By Her Report is available for download via this link: https://www.faithtoactionetwork.org/research_rightbyher/
During the exchange of views, implementing partners of the State of African Women Campaign, led by Dr. Anouka Eerdwijk (Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands) and Vitalis Mukhebi (Faith to Action Network, Kenya), called on the Social Affairs Committee to support the legal and policy reform processes going on at national and regional levels in Africa. “Together let us task our governments to establish strong legal frameworks, costed implementation plans and allocate sufficient funds to implement them,” said Dr. Eerdwijk.
The duo further reminded the committee that future relations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union need to be shaped by realities brought to the fore by the Right By Her report. “The EU and ACP have a lot in common: the consensus document prioritizes people, planet, prosperity and peace; while SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063 have similar aspirations. I urge you Honorables to strongly consider a balance between trade and investment on one hand, and interventions for human rights, gender equality, peace and conflict on the other hand,” said Mr. Mukhebi.
The meeting with Honorable Members of the Social Affairs Committee was part of a larger North-South Exchange of the campaign. Earlier on, implementing partners joined their European civil society counterparts in an informal session with Mr. Koen Doens, the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Development Communication (DEVCO) at the European Commission. “Post-Cotonou is not a re-negotiation of economic agreements, but it will address the missing elements, such as adding value to boost income for ACP countries,” Mr. Doens said.
In a separate breakfast event, representatives of the European Union Member States were interested to understand approaches of the faith community that have resulted in the successful cases cited in the Right By Her Report. “Promoting exchange of knowledge and skills using a peer-based model, and providing technical support to faith champions in conducting advocacy has led to these successes,” said Mr. Mukhebi in response. Some of the EU member states represented at this breakfast discussion were Estonia, Germany, Finland and Czech Republic.
The last activity of the north-south exchange was an infopoint session hosted by DEVCO. This lunch time conference engaged development partners and stimulated debate and different points of view on the gap between policy and reality for gender equality, harmful practices, sexuality and reproductive health as well as HIV and AIDS. A video recording of the infopoint session is accessible via this link: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/news-and-events/state-african-women_en