30 January 2015
African leaders meeting for the 24th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have been urged to come up with a clear road map for the development and empowerment of women on the continent as well as a plan to end child marriages.
The summit, which ends on 31 January, has the theme “Year of women’s empowerment and development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
“The leaders need to know that the young women and girls are here and they are not a statistic. The leaders need to create time to meet, dialogue, listen and then act,” said AU Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, on the sidelines of the summit.
Gumbonzvanda respected African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for putting women’s empowerment and development high on the agenda of the commission.
“This is part of Africa rising. Africa will not rise as long as its daughters are bleeding and Africa will never be prosperous or at peace with itself if the whole generation is losing opportunities.”
She expected that the outcome of the summit would be a clear commitment to end child marriages and that child marriage would be a key indicator to monitor the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Gumbonzvanda said the practice was a violation of the fundamental rights of girls.
Work had begun to prevent and end child marriages through changing attitudes. “It starts with a simple respect of men respecting girls, fathers respecting daughters, brothers respecting sisters and just going back to that spirit of love and care.”
Another target was to ensure that girls remained in school. “We need to go beyond reading your A, B, C and D and start doing numeracy. We want our girls to get education where they can compete on the international labour market and where they can be entrepreneurs and where they can have choices or which marriage is not a choice for getting a livelihood.”
The summit is also expected to inaugurate the Nelson Mandela Plenary Hall at the AU headquarters. The hall was named after the late statesman during the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa in January 2014.
Zuma leads South Africa delegation
Meanwhile, The Presidency said President Jacob Zuma, who is leading a delegation to the gathering in Ethiopia, yesterday briefed the 32nd Summit of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee on progress made in championing infrastructure development on the African continent.
He led the briefing in his capacity as chairman of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative. He also attended the African Peer Review Mechanism Summit and a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
The AU summit is considering the adoption of Agenda 2063, a 50-year shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development on the continent. The continental plan looks to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next half-a-century. It will also explore concrete ways to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality.
“South Africa has ensured that the National Development Plan includes the key proposals of Agenda 2063, with a strong focus on regional co-operation and integration,” said the Presidency.
Zuma is accompanied by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe; Minister in The Presidency Responsible for Women Susan Shabangu; Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane; State Security Minister David Mahlobo; and Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
Health matters would also be discussed by the African leaders, especially the Ebola outbreak; peace and security; and development and administrative related issues, including the Nepad and the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Follow the summit on Twitter.com/SAgovnews. The hashtag is #AUsummit.