Taking stock of Beijing, 15 years on

Nov 30, 2009

Twenty-eight African Ministers in charge of Gender Affairs and more than 600 other high level participants from 43 African countries participated in a Regional Review of “Beijing + 15” from November 16th through the 20th in Banjul, the Gambia.

The  purpose of the conference was to gather decision-makers, NGO’s, Women and Youth organizations, among other stakeholders, to look at progress made in Africa since the Beijing Summit on women 15 years ago, and to address challenges for the implementation of the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Africa.  The government of The Gambia hosted the conference and was supported by the UN System in the Gambia, with UNDP as the lead agency.

The UNDP Country Office Gambia received both financial and technical support from RBA and BDP for that assistance, which was provided by UNDP in various areas such as the recruitment of a team of consultants comprising of a Gender Expert, two Communication Specialists and a Website Developer. The teams assisted the Government’s Women’s Bureau in producing the Beijing National report for The Gambia, the AU Solemn Declaration Report, and the NGO Beijing Scheduled Report for The Gambia.  A highly informational website: http://www.beijing+15.gm - was also developed for the conference.

Diverse communication materials, including a PSA in four languages and a documentary showcasing best practices in the Gambia on the Beijing Platform for Action 12 critical areas were produced by the communication team, which worked hand in hand with colleagues from the UNECA.

The Vice President of the Republic of the Gambia in her statement on behalf of the President of the Republic of the Gambia thanked the UNDP Country Office in the Gambia for providing significant preparatory assistance.  According to Dr Aisatu Njie Saidy,  “the meeting in Banjul is of special significance in that it creates a forum to review progress so far realised, revisit the strategies and possibly come up with the necessary adjustment to enable collectively deal with the many pressing challenging gender issues in Africa”.  She further said that the contribution of African women to the continent development is clearly evident as African women are well known for their brilliance, creativity, hard work, commitment and unwavering determination to shape their own destiny.

Ms Chinwe Dike, the Resident Coordinator of the UN System in the Gambia and UNDP Resident Representative stated that “it is indeed time  to call on all actors and stakeholders engaged in promoting gender equality, and especially on governments to account for their stewardship.  This call includes the United Nations which after the 2009 GA meeting has also recognised the need to revamp its gender architecture to achieve greater effectiveness in the promotion of gender equality.”

Regional Bureau for Africa deputy director Elizabeth Fong went further to explain that UNDP has adopted a two-fold approach to gender mainstreaming.  She said :“Firstly, we support the empowerment of women to expand their capability opportunities, and choices, as well as to claim their rights and move into full substantive equality with men.  Secondly, we are supporting the capacity development of governments to respond positively to women’s interest and concerns”.

Ms Fong pledged that UNDP will work to support initiatives that empower women to claim their internationally agreed rights in every development sphere, and support government to be both pro-active and responsive in advancing the realization of these rights.

She confirmed that the gender equality strategy of UNDP is the tool used for the integration of gender into our core development work.

In implementing the UNDP gender strategy, UNDP in the Gambia has supported the government in building the capacity of women to fully participate in the electoral processes.

In her statement at the opening of the conference, Mrs Fatou Jassey-Kuyateh, Permanent Secretary of the Vice President -reiterated her government’s commitment to place women in decision-making positions as evidenced by the number of top offices occupied by women such as the Vice President, the Speaker of the national assembly, three ministers, one deputy minister and three other national assembly members.

The Beijing+ 15 conference in the Gambia concluded with strong feedback and input from participants and ministers from the countries represented.   Once again, African governments’ delegates confirmed their commitment to mainstream gender in their policy and address challenges based on the recommendations of the meeting.  Some of these focus on the economic empowerment of women by creating employment opportunities through targeted entrepreneurship and skills, as well asbusiness development paying particular attention to rural women.  They also call for countries to put in place measures aimed at accelerating agricultural production through advanced technologies.  The Beijing+ 15 eighth Africa Regional Review Conference has indeed been a major landmark on African women’s journey from “Commitment to Action” .

See also: Statement by UNDP Africa Deputy on Beijing+15Conference website: http://www.beijingplus15.gm/
Contact InformationUNDP Communications Officer in The Gambia
Sainabou Jallow-Gaye: sainabou.gaye@undp.org

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