CSW63 Position Statement & Recommendations by African Women’s Rights Organizations
Key Recommendations by African Women’s Rights Organizations on the CSW63 theme
Strategies for a Gender Responsive Approach to Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure
We, the members of the NGO CSW/Africa, take note of the African Ministerial Outcome Document resulting from the meeting of African Ministers’ of Gender/Women Affairs in Cairo from 3 to 6 February 2019 and acknowledge the Ministers’ pledge of their commitment and support to global and regional conventions ratified by member states relating to the theme of the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) concerning social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
We recognize that social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure have profound gender implications. It is therefore critical that governments develop, implement and ensure the enforcement by all segments of society of evidence-based holistic, coherent and multisectoral protections services that are qualitative, inclusive, confidential, open, friendly, accessible and adequately address the needs of vulnerable / under-served groups.
Despite African governments’ commitment to engender social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure, we note with concern that there is still widespread violations of these rights across the continent and that African women still face several vulnerabilities in these areas.
The African Ministerial Outcome Document’s commitments are welcome in a time where African women face several challenges, most of them relating to substantive gender equality. Striving towards women’s rights in Africa encounters many challenges because women across the continent, especially those living in rural areas, face challenges which include: ‘culture, religion, language, the impact of historical events in local settings, the natural environment and the political economy shaping subsistence and the distribution of resources. Most of these human rights challenges can be linked to the fact that women face barriers in accessing the social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure in their countries.
The overall framework for this discourse is going beyond access and anchoring the discourse on Rights and Entitlement. Women and girls should not be reduced to beneficiary status. They should be duly recognized as rights holders and people with agency, especially as citizens paying taxes.
The social protection discourse for Africans must be linked with social and economic policy space and effectively address the failure to deliver basic services. The social security or protection system is very technocratic and devoid of recognition of our community’s social support systems and positive cultural values. This should be addressed by National Governments as a matter of urgency.
A responsibility and accountability framework should be urgently adopted which recognises the central role of government in delivering public services, protecting vulnerable groups who are often excluded from service delivery, especially women and girls in all their diversities. Member states should recognize the importance of social, political economic and security environment that women and girls operate.
We therefore present this position statement with key messages to African governments with the view of assisting them to develop and implement strategies that ensure gender equality in social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. We enjoin our governments to adopt an evidence-based, holistic, coherent, multisectoral, cross-sectional, and intergenerational approach to addressing gender inequalities, vulnerability and exclusion across Africa.