Press statement by Michelle Bachelet at the 2013 African Union Summit

Date : 26 January 2013


Press Statement by Michelle Bachelet United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 26 January 2013.

 

[Check against delivery]

I am happy to be here with all of you and I join the African Union in celebrating its 50th Anniversary. I congratulate the African Union for electing the first woman Chairperson of the African Union Commission, a testament to her leadership and the AU’s determination to advance gender equality.

I commend the AU Commission for its aim to achieve 50-50 parity in its employment structures, to ensure that women attain decision-making positions, and to advocate for women’s development across the continent on the platform of the African Women’s Decade.

As the 54 nations of the African Union create a roadmap for the next 50 years, I call on African leaders to place women and girls at the centre of economic growth, sustainable development and political leadership.

I would like to put out a call to Action.

As the AU celebrates its 50th anniversary, I call for 50-50 parity in Africa’s parliaments, government cabinets, and private companies as a goal for 2050. As in 50-50 for 2050.

We all share in the excitement of Africa rising. There rightfully is optimism about the future: poverty is declining, growth is increasing, and progress is steady towards meeting many of the Millennium Development Goals.

Earlier this month I visited West Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Mali. I would like to convey the message of women in Mali. There can be no peace, democracy or development that is sustainable without women’s full participation. Women’s voices need to be heard.

The African population is young and rapidly growing; the workforce is expected to expand by 122 million between 2010 and 2020. That’s 122 million people who can drive the African Renaissance over the next few years. And over half of that talent, creativity and growth potential is women. It is time to unleash their full potential. It is time to remove barriers and discrimination against women that put the brakes on economic growth and development. We commend the progress being made in Africa to increase the percentage of women legislators. Rwanda is number one in the world, with 56 percent of seats in Parliament held by women.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a higher percentage of women in parliament than Asia, and many countries, including the United States and Japan. In July, Senegal almost reached gender parity in Parliament, when women were elected in record numbers into the country’s National Assembly.

This was thanks to a special measure, and similar quotas have been passed in many African nations. The very presence of female politicians has been shown to diversify the policy agenda and promote equity and justice. Wherever I go I call for more women leaders.We need stronger action to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women which affects up to seven in ten women worldwide.

That is why I have called on Governments worldwide, as part of the Secretary- General’s UNiTE campaign, to join UN Women’s COMMIT initiative to end violence against women and girls. So far 16 countries have committed and one of them is Togo.

Today I call on every nation in Africa to make a strong public commitment to end violence against women.In any society, it is only together that we can make progress and move forward. So, let us move forward, women and men and young people, for an African Renaissance for all.

Speeches and news:

Ms. #Bachelet calls for #women‘s full participation in the #African renaissance at the #AUsummit owl.li/hbV8u

— UN Women (@UN_Women) January 28, 2013