Guest Post by Walaa Salah, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa
As part of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, on January 22-23, the delegation’s members from across Africa were offered attendance to a pre-summit side event, the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC).
Gender is My Agenda is a broad campaign for women and men from African countries, providing a platform for African organizations and international organizations with interest in Africa that have a mandate on gender equality. The meetings of the campaign take place twice a year prior to the African Union Summit, and participants come from all around the continent to advocate and raise concerns on issues related to women’s rights and gender equality. The organizations then take the recommendations from the meeting to the African Union leaders and commissioners.
The agenda of the meeting was varied, reflecting the variety of issues the participants are involved in and the outstanding civil society organizations who attend the GIMAC meetings regularly. The theme of meeting was also influenced and connected with the theme of the AU Summit which was “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.” The meeting agenda covered issues related to: women's role in Pan-Africanism and African renaissance, women's access to education, gender and climate change and other important issues.
During the meeting the issue of rape in conflict in Africa was one of the main topics on the agenda - and was raised as one of the main concerns in Africa. The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict participated in a panel on ending sexual violence, with two speakers from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo together with panelists from South Sudan and Central African Republic. Both of the Campaign's panelists are grassroots activists working directly with rape victims, and in their statement they captured the atrocities of the rape survivors, the legal and social challenges concerning bringing justice to the victims and the polices restricting women access to justice and support. At the end of their statement each of the panelists concluded with recommendations to the African countries, African Commission and to the civil society organizations working on issues related to gender based violence.
It was my first time to attend a Gender is My Agenda meeting and I am pleased that the Campaign offered me the opportunity to participate and learn more. Knowing how best to engage with the African Union was really one of the main learning experiences during our delegation.