Africa must close the macroeconomics gender gap to achieve sustainable development

Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9th October 2017  
Africa’s policy makers must harness their definitive role in influencing macroeconomic policies that lead to the transformation of the lives of women and girls in Africa.  In particular, Africa must accelerate the need to exclusively and effectively engage women on macroeconomic policies as they have a direct impact on the continents’ development.
The African Women’s Development & Communication Network (FEMNET), in partnership with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University (CWGL), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Christian Aid and UN Women seek to bring a feminist analysis of macroeconomic policy. They urge African Nations to take seriously the need to engage in feminist perspectives on its macroeconomic policy that is rooted in human rights.

“Africa must embark on formulating Macroeconomic policies that are responsive to the needs and demands of women so as to bridge the glaring gaps of inequalities” 

Convening a landmark African Feminist Macroeconomics Academy (AFMA) in Johannesburg from 9th to 13th October, FEMNET’s Executive Director Dinah Musindarwezo says unless African governments acknowledge the critical need for transforming macroeconomic policies to respond to the needs of women and girls the continent will fail to fully attain inclusive and sustainable economic development that works for all its people.

“Women who make up over half of Africa’s population are conspicuously absent from the decision-making processes as regards macroeconomics and yet they are the greatest losers on issues of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) that ravage our economic growth. These glaring discrepancies on the economic platform must change for Africa to fully prosper” said Ms. Musindarwezo.

Professor Radhika Balakrishana, a Professor in Women and Gender Studies and Faculty Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University (USA) and a key trainer to the AFMA event says; “The global financial crisis has created recognition of the need to reframe macro level policies in ways that are in tune with human rights and more effective for achievement of social justice and gender equality. We need to have equitable national development policies and guidelines that ensure that policy space will be used for the realization of rights and gender equality rather than the further concentration of wealth and power and expansion of inequality. Economic policy can be assessed using human rights principles, norms, and obligations”.

The AFMA 2017  brings  together 30  senior level representatives from women’s rights organizations, academia & researchers all poised to unpack the intrigues around engendering the macroeconomic discourse against the growing impact of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
Africa is experiencing different types of Illicit Financial Flows including commercial activities, lack of resources, tax evasion, tax avoidance, criminal activities, human trafficking, forced labor and corruption.
The African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial flows have drained in excess of a trillion dollars from Africa since 1980.
These illicit outflows constitute 5.5 percent of the GDP in Africa and are larger than incoming total foreign direct investment and also vastly larger than the sum total of all official development assistance (ODA) flowing into these countries. Commercial activities account for 65 per cent of IFFs.
In convening AFMA 2017, FEMNET, CWGL and partners hope to enhance the capacity of African women’s rights activists and feminists to influence macroeconomic policies and outcomes and ultimately create an economy that works for all.

“When African countries loose so much in resources through Illicit Financial Flows it means Governments are unable to address inequality, prevent discrimination and thus fulfill their human rights obligations to tackle inequality and prevent discrimination in the generation and use of resources” says Dinah Musindarwezo.    

“ It is estimated that for each 1$ developing nations received in foreign aid  and for every 10 $ in illicit money flow abroad, an astronomical amount can be saved to resource domestic needs and ensure investment in social service provision for Africa’s populations like education, job creation,  infrastructure and healthcare. This can in-turn for example salvages the lives of millions threatened by infant and maternal mortality” she added.

AFMA’s ambition is to galvanize the macroeconomic discourse towards infusing a feminist analysis that would engender macroeconomic policies which would in turn bridge gender inequalities.
AFMA 2017 will culminate with a Public Lecture on the 11th of October 2017 at the Southern Sun Oliver Tambo Hotel – Johannesburg from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Supported by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and ChristianAid and the UN-Women, the African Feminist Macroeconomics Academy (AFMA) is poised to be a sustained conversation on the Continental feminist analysis of Macroeconomics that will shift the paradigm towards  achieving gender equality, women’s rights and  empowerment of  women and girls in Africa.

Evidence shows that there is dearth of contextualised information and knowledge based on feminist analysis of critical macroeconomic policy issues such as illicit financial flows, informal trade, unpaid care work, decent work, tax justice in Southern Africa the region and on the continent, to inform strategies for advocacy for women’s economic justice. As a result, efforts by self-organising women’s movements and women’s rights activists in the region largely focus on responding to the impacts that these macroeconomic policies have on women, and not challenging these frameworks or influencing them to be more gender responsive,” observed Alice Kanengoni, Women’s Rights Programme Manager at OSISA.

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Since inception in 1988, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) continues to play a leading role in building the women’s movement in Africa and ensuring that African women’s voices are amplified and influence decisions made at national, regional and global levels, which have direct and indirect impact on their lives.
As a pan-African membership-based organization working to advance women’s rights, FEMNET has a mandate to mobilize African women to hold governments accountable to commitments previously agreed upon to achieve gender equality and women’s rights including: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
FEMNET’ s vision is an African society where gender equality is achieved and women and girls enjoy all their rights and live in dignity. Our mantra is women’s rights are human rights, and our mission is to mobilize African women for the achievement of gender equality and the realization of women’s and girls’ rights at all levels.
About the Center for Women’s Global Governance (CWGL)  
With feminist values, CWGL strengthens and bridges voices for human rights, towards social justice and self-determination.
To this end, CWGL works at the intersection of gender, human rights and economic policy and utilize the following strategies:

  • Convene those closest to the struggle to explore and exchange ideas and solutions.
  • Research guided by those committed to realizing rights.
  • Advocate with and for those traditionally excluded from decision-making.

Transform = Convene + Research + Advocate

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