‘No chance of MDG success without full women’s participation’

By Kemo Cham- A new guide published by the Africa Progress Panel says Poverty alleviation strategies that do not involve or seek to empower women have no chance of succeeding in Africa.

Koffi Anan

The new resource guide, published under the chairmanship of former UN boss Kofi Anan, ties the success of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the full participation of women with the ultimate objective to empowering them.

Published Friday 17th September 2010, in the run-up to the UN MDG Summit in New York, the guide: Women and the MDGs in Africa’, stressed the critical necessity of achieving the full participation and empowerment of women and girls in all aspects of political, economic and social life in order to achieve the goals.

Packed with crucial and relevant information, the guide seeks to mobilize action and contribute to better informed decision-making. It provides policy-makers with key statistics and insights alongside the most important reports and best practice examples.

The Africa Progress Panel came into being in the wake of the Gleneagles G8 Summit and seeks to pursue commitments made by the international community towards the development of the continent.

Its head, former UN secretary general and Nobel Laureate, Kofi Annan, said: “The Millennium Development Goals have already improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people, but we are still far from achieving what we set out to do in 2000.” Anan was speaking ahead of the New York summit. “Much more can be done to mobilize private and public sector resources for public goods and services, and to put investment in jobs and people at the heart of growth and development strategies,” he said.

According to the former UN boss, several important donors have already scaled back on their commitments or relaxed their development efforts. He said the goals do not need “fair-weather friends”, but serious investors in for the long haul.

“Revitalizing the political will to achieve the Goals and mobilizing greater resources to deliver tangible results is the linchpin to success,” he stated, adding, “the primary responsibility rests with political leaders, and their challenge is to re-articulate a compelling case for global solidarity and equitable growth. The message must be that achieving the Goals is not optional, but an essential investment in a fairer, safer and more prosperous world.”

The Africa Progress Panel which comprises distinguished personalities like Tony Blair, Olusegun Obasanjo, Bob Geldof and economist and Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, among others, monitors and promotes mutual accountability and shared responsibility for progress on the continent. It focuses mainly on the three areas of economic and political governance; finance for sustainable development; and MDG achievement, with strong emphasis on climate change.

This new guide by the panel points at key issues needing utmost attention across all 8 goals of the MDGs. Meeting the food aspect for MGD 1, for instance, demands the eradication of gender discrimination.

“African women produce 20% more than men, yet they (women) own 1% of the land and receive only 1% of all agricultural credit,” it notes.

With regards to Universal Education, Goal 2, the guide notes that in addition to the potential of supporting progress on all the Goals, educating the girl child means that she will be three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earn up to 25% more in income, out of which she will invest up to 90% in her family, and she will have a smaller, healthier family with children who are 40% more likely to live past the age of five.