Addis Ababa, 18 September 2014 – An Expert Group Meeting (EGM) which places focus on the gender dimensions of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) concluded today with an agreed consensus that there is a greater need now more than ever to increase the focus on gender related cross-cutting issues within the African Union (AU) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agendas. At the meeting, representatives from regions of Africa and NEPAD discussed the issues facing the implementation of gender initiatives at the national and regional levels. They went on to propose several recommendations which are expected to be delivered to the governments of their various countries.
Mr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, Director of the Capacity Development Division (CDD) of the ECA expressed his pleasure at being a part of this crucial meeting stating that the ECA uses Expert Group Meetings (EGM) to bring together a small group of intellectuals who work towards proposing viable and implementable solutions towards Africa’s development. “The EGMs are also used as a sounding board to promote the ECA’s development agenda” he said. He highlighted that this meeting offered an opportunity to validate a draft report “The African Peer Review Mechanism and Managing Diversity: The Gender Dimension”, which the staff of the Capacity Development Division have developed. He added that the report is directly aligned with the fact that the ECA is systematically studying all the cross cutting gender issues in the APRM. The issues include examining the specific multi-level issues of inequality and unblocking of power structures that sustain gender inequality. He concluded by adding that the wide range of participants at the meeting was very encouraging and he expressed the hope that they would have an adequately wide range of discussions.
In the same vein, the of the African Centre for Gender and Social Development (ACGS), Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo said that this particular EGM is very critical because gender issues are being defined both on the continent and globally. She added that “Next year the African Union theme will be on gender”. Ms. Ruzvidzo stressed that in guiding the deliberations of the meeting over the next two days, topics that will need to be focused on include the pillars of the AU and NEPAD agendas. She stated that Africa’s rising economic growth has unfortunately not translated into economic diversity even though the interplay between gender equality and economic growth is clear. “It is for this reason that the ECA has placed African women at the centre of its programmes” she added. Finally, she urged all participants to ensure that the outcomes of this EGM clearly demonstrate to the continent that this is not business as usual, sighting that there is the need for bold discourse.
Several sessions were held during the meeting with participants discussing the mainstreaming gender equality through the APRM Cycle as well as an overview of women’s rights and gender issues in Africa. After two days of deliberations, the EGM adequately achieved its objectives, which were;
o To deliberate on the APRM process and the various aspects of governance that have implications on gender.
o To review, validate and finalize the drafted report.
The discussions and proposals of the Expert Group Meeting will be highlighted at the APRM retreat which is being held in October to develop stronger collaboration and implementation of its agenda