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FORUM 2009 - A Pressing Thematic

 
The 2009 Forum will be dedicated to the 3 Fs of the Global crisis (fuel, food and finance) and its impact on African women. This theme has been chosen as it is very significant and critical theme for Africa.  As mentioned in ‘The Global Monitoring Report, A Development Emergency” published on 2009 by the World Bank, ‘the triple punch of the food, fuel, and financial crises creates new risks for poverty reduction’. Because African women’s vulnerability is worsen by those crisis, the African civil society and relevant actors involved in Africa need to address its issues as well as opportunities ahead by reviewing  the different ways women’s positive multiplier effect could be used on development.  This thematic came up to fill the gaps of conferences, panels and reports on the Global crisis organized throughout 2009.

BACKGROUND & GAPS

A number of international conferences, debates and panels have been recently taking place on the Global Crisis.

  • the London Summit (April 2009) of the G20 raised implications of the Global crisis in Africa. The leaders of the Group of twenty recognized that the current crisis has a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable in the poorest countries. They recognized their responsibility to mitigate the social impact of the crisis and to minimize long-lasting damage to global potential. Also, they acknowledged that the crisis has a human dimension affecting differently women than men. To mitigate the impact of the crisis, the G20 committed to support those affected by the crisis by creating employment opportunities and through income support measures.  In Africa they are making available resources for social protection. This includes investments in long-term food security and through voluntary bilateral contributions to the World Bank’s Vulnerability Framework which comprises the Infrastructure Crisis Facility and the Rapid Social Response Fund.  Although these initiatives are appreciated, no discussions have been addressing the Global crisis from a particular Gender perspective most of them takes an institutional approach.

  • Likewise, The UN Agencies have been holding several debates and releasing several reports on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development and the MDGs these last months but they take mainly a global approach and focus on the economic impact of the crisis

  • The recent new WFP Gender Policy « Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Addressing Food and Nutrition Challenges,” and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) interactive expert panel on “Emerging issue, Gender perspectives of the financial crisis” both testify of the specific challenges faced by women but as well from a global approach.

  • At the continental level, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have taken several actions to assist African governments in dealing with the effects of the crisis.

  • The 6th African Development Forum (ADF VI), one of the closest partners of FAS has been jointly held by UNECA, AU and AfDB to reflect the strategic partnership fostered among the three institutions to deliver as one towards meeting Africa’s development priorities, including gender equality. ADF VI was the first to sound the alarm on the emerging issues such as food security challenges caused by rising food prices, climate change, and energy shortages affecting women differently from men. The forum discussed on the ways to reduce their negative impact and strengthen the positive ones, in order to create new opportunities for gender equality and women’s empowerment inAfrica.

AGF 2009: FILLING THE GAPS

Except from ADF VI, most initiatives focused on financial/economic aspect and dismissed actions and measures “by the African women for the women’s agenda”. Indeed only the ADF VI, in its Consensus Statement and Plan of Action, calls for a “gender revolution” to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.  ADF VI recommended for Africa to invest heavily in the human security and potential of women in these times of crisis as well as for global, African and national initiatives to ensure financing for gender equality. However, the African civil society input, and especially the one from the women, has not been expressed formally yet.
Given that, The African Gender Forum (AGF) would then tremendously contribute to the advancement, ownership and implementation of African women’s agenda on these issues. The Forum, in light of the ADF VI, should allow to clarify issues and challenges for Africa but more importantly should take a positive approach and explore how this crisis could be used as an opportunity for Africa, and especially what it means and implies for African women’s agenda, keeping in mind the added value they can represent in such a situation.

THE ROLE OF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE

Building on these observations, A Scientific Committee (SC) has being formed for AGFA to develop this theme and clarify the context for Africa. This Committee will also analyze the implication for the existing Plans of Actions in order to come-up with the best programme on this theme. Also, the SC will have to propose and identify strategies that address Gender Agenda and more importantly it will discuss actions to be taken to improve their implementation by mapping first the situation and by addressing the way forward. Given that the draft agenda of the Forum will address the points below:

ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION

     Actors:
      -   How does the global crisis affect developing countries?
      -   How does it affect African governments?
      -   How are African women and girls most affected by the crisis?
      -   How is the African civil society affected by the crisis?
      -   How can actors get engaged?
     Issues:
      -   How is the global crisis likely to be an obstacle to the implementation of the MDGs, and increase the gap
          rich-poor?
      -   In which way does the crisis hit women especially economically or is it in relation to gender based violence
          for example?
      -   If no action is taken in Africa, what are the immediate and long term effects that could be expected?
     Funds and Initiatives:
      -   What are the initiatives already in place?
      -   What are the legal and operational instruments recently developed to help in addressing these issues that
          could be shared with participants?
      -   What is the current involvement of African women in managing the global crisis issues?
      -   How women have been involved in managing this?
      -   How the civil society benefit from this?
      -   What are the funds made available to support African women in the crisis recovery?

WAY FORWARD

     How can the crisis be an opportunity to foster development in Africa ?
      -   What are the immediate actions (then medium and long-term) to be taken by the Govts to mitigate the negative
          impact including policy responses that they should be making to cushion the impact of the crisis on both men
          and women?
      -   What needs to be done to ensure that gender perspectives are incorporated in policy responses to the crisis?
      -  What role can Governments, international organizations, and civil society, including the private sector, play to
          ensure that financial and economic crises do not have a disproportionate negative impact on women?
      -  How can gender-responsive budgets be systematically used to ensure adequate resources for gender
          equality and women’s empowerment in the context of the financial crisis?
      -  Can gender-responsive budget processes be used effectively to assess the impact of financial crises on
          women and girls?

     What are the gender-responsive policies and mechanisms to be enhanced to fully utilize the
      multiplier effect of women and girls on development?

      -  What are the sectors (e.g., agriculture) and programmes (e.g., employment) where the women’s added value
          could benefit African countries to recover from the crisis?
      -   What specific actions, measures and mechanisms to be adopted by African women to improve their situation
          in this context in the short and medium terms?