Wednesday, 24 September 2008
FAWE Executive Director Dr Codou Diaw was a panellist at the Africa Women’s Forum organised by UNIFEM as a side event to the High Level Meeting on Africa’s development needs held in New York, US, on 22 September.
The core preoccupation of the Forum was addressing the empowerment of women as a central aspect of Africa’s development in a context where poverty, exclusion, violence and discrimination remain critical threats to African women’s progress. Its objectives were to take stock of the status of implementation of commitments to Africa’s development from a gender and human rights perspective; identify challenges faced by member states in implementing these commitments; and make recommendations for accelerating implementation and strengthening mechanisms of accountability.
In an address to the Africa Women’s Forum, Dr Diaw said there was ‘international consensus on education as critical to wider processes of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women’. She called on African governments to consider widening the scope of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 ¬– universal primary education – to meaningful primary and post-primary education, including technical and vocational training and higher education.
Dr Diaw said, ‘For education to be a transformative force for achieving women’s empowerment in line with MDG 3, it is critical that girls and women, as well as boys and men, receive appropriate and relevant education and training’.
She called for greater gender-responsiveness in higher, technical and vocational education, and for practical education linked to labour market demand for girls and boys deprived of schooling owing to conflict. She also stressed that ‘practical strategies and approaches are needed to transform the higher education environment to be more welcoming for African women.’
Commending the progress made towards achieving MDG 2, Dr Diaw called on governments and relevant ministries to ‘focus their attention on strategies that can ensure that the targets they committed to are not missed’ for 2015. She made a number of recommendations for accelerating the implementation of gender-related MDGs.
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