The African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), in Partnership with Akina Mama wa Africa, ISIS-WICCE, Women Major Groups (WMG) and the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) organized a 3 day strategic Meeting in Addis Ababa aimed at influencing the African Position on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
The 3 day meeting brought together various NGO representatives from the different regions of the continent, media experts, and distinguished speakers from Civil Society Organizations Regional and International Bodies.
Deliberations were majorly focused on the critical analysis and reflection the ongoing discourses; the MDGs, SDGS, Agenda 2063, ICPD, CSW, Post 2015 agenda and strategizing on how best to insure that we are not only included in the ongoing processes but rather take ownership of the process and outcomes. In strengthening our advocacy and vibrant engagement, capacity building sessions were integrated into the three day meeting with a particular focus on engaging the media, documentation, and use of social media as critical tools for ensuring that gender equity is given the due attention it deserves throughout the ongoing discourses
From the ongoing discussions it was evident that majority of the African countries have unfinished business when it comes to the attainment of the MDGs, that unlike the talk down model of the MDGs, the new development framework has involved consultations and engaged different voices, however of concern has been the fact that there is no strong position of the CSOs in determining the outcome of the final document.
As stakeholders in these processes the meeting challenged us and our leaders to reflect on a number of issues as we continue to engage in the different discourses such as;
- What does structural transformation and integration really mean? We need to ensure that we attain a transformative agenda and not merely focus on inclusivity
- How is the 2063 agenda transformative and who is Africa rising for?
- We need to set targets that are financed by ourselves without burdening the women who have continued to be strong advocates of change
- It was emphasized that we need to move away from the notion of quick fixes we must be transformative and deal with the root causes of gender inequality
- Concern was raised about ongoing trend in which states are questioning legal instruments that were already endorsed and why the gains that were acquired through the ratification of these instruments were being negated.
- SRHR issues was not an agenda for UNFPA but rather an agenda of all stakeholders
In strategizing on how we move forward, members at this forum were very proactive and engaged in the process of a critically analyzing the CSW statement and our asks in preparation for the 58th CSW. In addition to this was a stimulation exercise on lobbying and advocacy at the regional level a platform that helped members reflect on our we correctly position ourselves for effective negotiations. A number of recommendations were highlighted during this process and included;
- We need to think of where and how we engage, formal ways are not the only ways of engagement, how do we maneuver around the informal and formal settings.
- Identify the friendly states and then talk about the same thing and familiarize with other regions and create a strong alliance and strengthen that process
- set out our priorities; reviewing the different negotiables, preparations for the zero draft, coordinate with the CSO globally and with organizations working with SRHR
- When government begin to negotiate, monitor what is being said and have a strategy meeting with the partners mapping to see who is supportive or not and how to approach them
- Reach a level of demanding without compromising...we need to have the evidence, facts, the diagnostic analysis vs. testimonies
- Consult with CSO, women rights, organization, mobilize resources mobilization, and a critical mass, consultations with governments should be focused more on the Ministry of Foreign affairs who had more significant when it comes to negotiations than being consumed with Ministry of gender our side events and PR
- Correctly reframe our demands in our quest to dismantle issues of gender inequality
- We need to be forward looking in the way we engage; appreciating the need for political mapping and planning ahead to effect our strategies
- Conceptual reality is crucial when debating and framing our asks during the negotiations
- Empower the media to appreciate issues of gender inequality and the ongoing discourses for effective reporting and citizenry awareness
- Identification of areas of need for strengthening women's advocacy in the post 2015 processes, such as capacity building for media in gender inequality and enhancement of negotiation skills
- Review of the priority areas of the Africa Common Position with a focus on the formulation of targets, indicators and non-negotiatiables
- Review and enhancement of the CSW/NGOAfrica statement on the key asks in preparation for the 58th CSW convening
- Capacity building and appreciation for media engagement, documentation, and social media in strengthening women's advocacy in the ongoing processes
Therefore as we continue to engage in the different platforms and on- going processes we should strategically position ourselves with the politically correct language and avenues that will not only permit the inclusion but ownership of the outcome as well.