Gender equality and the empowerment of women

Gender equality and the empowerment of women icon
Our programme aims to support member States in their efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in every sphere of life. We support member States in accelerating the implementation of relevant policies, mechanisms and tools as well as the monitoring and evaluation of their international commitments in order to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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5 - Gender Equality

Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but it is also a prerequisite for and an indication of an inclusive, peaceful, just, prosperous and sustainable world. The last three decades have witnessed tangible advances towards gender equality, including through landmark agreements such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as gender-relevant indicators in other SDGs and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The domestication of these agreements has translated into some progress towards achieving gender equality in Africa, including:
  • significant reductions in maternal mortality;
  • increased advocacy on the elimination of violence against women; and
  • legislative, policy and programmatic efforts to fulfill women’s right to education, and constitutional and legal right to inherit.
Nevertheless, gender inequalities remain widespread and entrenched in Africa. Women continue to suffer violations of their human rights and lack equal access to education, healthcare, employment, decision-making, leadership as well as economic resources. Additional burdens such as infectious-disease outbreaks including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change further exacerbate these inequalities, while violence against women remains pervasive.
African gender inequality in numbers
African gender inequality in numbers

Our focus

Gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG 5) should not be viewed as a single goal, but should be mainstreamed into the design and implementation of all development programmes to support the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals. With this outlook, our ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ programme addresses issues that impact women and girls across Africa and supports member States in their efforts to achieve the gender equality and women’s empowerment targets enshrined in global and regional instruments.
We develop tools and knowledge products for policy design and delivery, provide support to member States on capacity development, monitor and evaluate progress on international agreements, and build regional consensus on gender equality priorities.
In addition, our team serves a facilitating role in ensuring that gender considerations are integrated across all areas of our organization’s work. Our work is divided into three cross-cutting streams as per the commission’s core functions of think tank, operational and convening.
  1. Think tank:

    We undertake cutting-edge research and analysis to support decision-makers in member States by identifying, developing and implementing the right policy and programme responses to gender inequalities and barriers to women’s empowerment. Some of our flagship publications include:

    • The flagship African Women’s Report looks at topical challenges to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the changing world and recommends suitable actions to accelerate inclusive growth;
    • TheAfricanGender and Development Index measures the progress made by member States in implementing their gender equality commitments and related policy options; and
    • The Africa Gender Index – jointly developed with the African Development Bank – is the most comprehensive measurement of the state of gender equality across African countries. Its first edition, produced in 2020, covered 51 of the 53 African countries.
  2. Operational

    Our operational assistance focuses on assisting member States in implementing their gender equality commitments. We organize in-country activities to improve policy and programme design, enhance implementation capacity and strengthen institutional development. This assistance is delivered at the request of governments and is tailored to their unique context, with a focus on sustainability. Assistance is offered in various ways, including:

    • The application of tailored policy tools and guidelines for member States;
    • The exchange of country, regional and global good practices;
    • The undertaking of research, feasibility studies and targeted capacity-building activities; and
    • The national review of the implementation of international agreements;

  3. Convening power

    Our team brings together a wide spectrum of stakeholders to coordinate and mobilize action on regional and international agreements that require cross-border collaboration. Our convening activities are a vital opportunity for representatives from governments, academia, civil society and the private sector to discuss common challenges, explore policy options, foster partnerships and build regional consensus. Our key events include:

    • The Africa Regional Consultations on the Commission on the Status of Women;
    • The statutory meeting of the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender; and
    • The Africa regional review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Our commitment
We are committed to supporting member States in their endeavor to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as across the Commission in the delivery of our mandate and programmes. This achievement will not only unlock significant benefits for families, societies and economies but will also be the cornerstone for the realization of all goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

Statutory Meeting

Committee on Gender and Social Development


Last updated 9 May 2021