The 25th African Union Summit is expected to take decisions that will take issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment to new heights, says Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu.
Speaking at the AU 2nd High Level Panel (HLP) on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the Minister said the importance of the summit during the year of women’s empowerment and development towards Africa Agenda 2063 cannot be over-emphasised.
The HLP themed “Make it Happen with Financial inclusion of Women in the Agribusiness” is taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg.
Minister Shabangu said the HLP must go back-to-basics and appreciate that the African Women’s Decade was initiated to implement yearly one of the ten themes identified for the decade as well as re-invigorate the implementation of other agreed global and regional commitments for women empowerment and gender equality (GEWE).
“Africa Agenda 2063 represents the change in a historic epoch and will be judged by its commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“It therefore represents renewed hope for women of our continent because it goes beyond the rhetoric on gender issues and focuses on implementation of concrete actions with visible and measurable outcomes of women’s socio-economic and political empowerment,” she said Wednesday.
Minister Shabangu said South Africa encourages the African Union Commission to expedite the operationalisation of the pillars of the Specialized Technical Committees (STC).
She said the HLP as one of the pillars of the STC for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was established to create space for women scholars, researchers, academia, and gender experts to discuss selected themes from an intellectual, practical, scientific and contextual respect to tease out emerging issues, trends and challenges facing the continent in that particular thematic area.
“The outcomes of the HLP meetings will empower the AU Ministers in charge of Gender and Women’s Affairs to adopt sound decisions based on the technical expertise of the HLP participants that we as Ministers will recommend to the Heads of State,” she said.
Minister Shabangu explained that this will facilitate the mainstreaming of gender across the AU Agenda 2063 and the work of all the STCs of the AU.
“I emphasise that the HLP proposals like the proposed call for action plan on Women’s Financial Inclusion in Agribusiness and communiqué that will emerge from this HLP, should be presented to the Minister’s meeting on the 12th for adoption by the Ministers and be recommended to the Heads of States Summit,” Minister Shabangu said, adding that there is a need to move women out of informal trading, SMMEs and small projects into the mainstream economic activities.