“Get serious about fighting corruption” FEMNET tells the African Union

PRESS RELEASE:   For immediate release/ 22nd  June 2018
 Nouakchott- Mauritania, 22nd  June 2018If Africa was serious and committed to ending corruption then gender equality, women and girls’ empowerment would be significantly enhanced with meaningful impact.
The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), in a poignant address to the Africa Union Summit currently sitting in Nouakchott, Mauritania through a dynamic panel representing voices from across Africa, has emphasized the categorical need for Africa to pro-actively fight corruption if gender equality, women and girls’ empowerment is  to be realized.
Launching a critical Policy Brief: Fight Corruption, Finance Gender Equality [1] at the AU Summit in Mauritania within the 32nd session of the Gender is  My Agenda Conference (GIMAC) that is held on the margins of the AU Summit, FEMNET’s push for Africa’s accountability on the war against corruption is  unrelenting.
The Policy Report paints a gloomy picture on the corruption menace ravaging the continent:    “…The African Union estimates that 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of African countries is lost to corruption every year with 5 percent of these resources lost through illicit financial flows. 65% of the outflows are drawn from commercial activity by multinationals and 30% from criminal activities…”
Memory Kachambwa, FEMNET’s Executive Director emphasizes that the situation is much more devastating when it comes to the impact of corruption on Africa’s women and girls and what they miss out on because of persistent graft.
“The reality our African leaders must confront is the fact that because of corruption, Africa’s women and girls are seriously the collateral damage – they lose on all the important pointers of development because all the resources are lost on illegitimate dealings” stated Ms. Kachambwa.  “What should be budgeted for to improve the Continent and it’s people particularly women and the youth who are the majority, is continuously being lost through corruption and Illicit Financial Flows”. 
Shocking Inequalities
Africa’s gender inequality index is shockingly more devastating on women and girls, a fact which FEMNET insists must be addressed within the AU’s 2018 theme;“Winning the fight against Corruption – A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation”.  
The FEMNET Policy brief outlines the glaring gaps of corruption and inequality which ultimately must get the entire Continent seriously concerned. The report further provokes duty bearers to action.
According to a United Nations Report of 2005, Women in sub-Saharan Africa have about five children over their reproductive lifetime, compared to a global average of 2.5 children[i].  Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of early and forced marriages with Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and South Sudan leading. In Niger, high fertility rates are accompanied by marriage at a very young age. 60 percent of young girls are married by age 19 and this figure increases alongside a reduction in age in rural communities, where the majority is married at 12 or 13[ii].
Every year, an estimated 74 million unintended pregnancies occur in developing regions, the great majority of which are among women using no contraception or a traditional method.  If all unmet needs for modern methods were met, 52 million of these unintended pregnancies could be averted, thereby preventing the deaths of 70,000 women from pregnancy-related causes.
Violence has a significant impact on the health and life expectancy of women in Africa with rape and domestic abuse accounting for 5 percent of healthy years of life lost to women of reproductive age in developing countries.  In South Africa, the economic impact of violence against women is estimated at between at least R28.4 billion and R42.4 billion for the year 2012/2013, representing 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent of GDP respectively[iii].
Bilateral aid remains the dominant source of funding for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), a critical area that African governments continue to ignore.  This ignorance, especially in resource allocation is at the peril of African women and girl. Amidst these glaring discrepancies is the harsh reality of what Africa can actually salvage and plough back into financing gender equality for inclusive development and the meaningful achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
According to FEMNET’s  Policy Brief, if 5% of the 50 billion dollars lost to IFF flows was invested in gender equality programs, this is what it would do:-  

  1. Increase 15 percent of a country’s GDP contribution to the health sector will contribute to rectifying the imbalance created by the fact that the majority of reproductive and sexual rights funding is drawn from bilateral sources.
  2. 5 billion dollars from the 50 billion dollars lost annually to illicit financial flows can be deployed to meeting the AU’s commitment to harnessing the demographic dividend by redirecting resources towards increasing access to contraception by young women and women generally as well as addressing access to safer and comprehensive health services to curb deaths caused by unsafe abortions as well as reduce maternal mortality.
  3. 5 billion dollars can be invested in justice, policing and health sectors to build a zero-tolerance approach towards violence against women. Investing in preventive measures rather than in meeting health costs incurred due to treating survivors of violence seeking health services offers a long-lasting solution to a major scourge.
  4. 5 billion dollars can be used to construct and/or equip health centres across forty- seven counties in Kenya, where access to health services for women remains wanting[iv]. Alternatively, a total 42,477 mobile clinics can be purchased for this amount of money.

FEMNET now wants Africa Governments to adopt a combination of stringent measures to ensure they tighten the noose on corruption and become more accountable to their citizenry.
“African governments must be extremely serious in ratifying, domesticating and implementing regional instruments on Corruption and gender equality like the AU Convention on Prevention  Combating Corruption and other charters like the Maputo protocol that will ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment” said Memory Kachambwa. “They must also infuse open governance mechanism that is a critical part of enhancing transparency so that information on tenders, contracting, loans, and inflows from mining are publicly available to the public for scrutiny. Only then will we know that they are serious about fighting corruption”.
For more information & to request an Interview, contact:- Mildred Ngesa, FEMNET Head of Communications : ngesamildred@gmail.com / +254 727 137 853 / & Catherine Nyambura, Advocacy Officer, FEMNET – prog-associate@femnet.or.ke
Over the past 30 years, FEMNET has distinguished itself as a visible and credible pan-African women’s rights organization that works with its members to assert influence at strategic regional and global levels. FEMNET has fulfilled this mandate through diverse strategies of mobilizing and networking women and girls, facilitated by leveraging a membership network consisting of over 500 members of all diversity in 43 countries across the African continent and in the diaspora. Continentally and globally, FEMNET is recognized as a credible voice for African women and girls in significant decision-making platforms. Our recognition and legitimacy is especially drawn from our membership whom we serve and whose voice we continuously strive to amplify and represent.
[1] https://femnet.org/2018/06/21/policy-brief-fight-corruption-finance-gender-equality/
[i] See Andrew Mason, 2005, “Demographic Transition and Demographic Dividends in Developed and Developing Countries,” United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Social and Economic Implications of Changing Population Age Structures (Mexico City).
[ii] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2015 Youth Population Trends and Sustainable Development. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/documents/youth/fact-sheets/YouthPOP.pdf
[iii] KPMG. N.d. Too Costly to Ignore: The Economic Cost of Gender Based Violence in South Africa. https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/za/pdf/2017/01/za-Too-costly-to-ignore.pdf
[iv] The cost of a fully kitted mobile clinic is estimated to be USD 115,000. http://kenya.unfpa.org/news/united-nations-secretary-general-mr-ban-ki-moon-pledges-support-reduce-maternal-mortality-kenya

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