Fight the pandemic in Equality. Women for Africa Institutional Statement


The Women for Africa Foundation, together with its African advisers, has published an institutional statement with the main objective of not stepping back on Equality and making women, and especially African women, active agents in the management of this crisis.

IN ORDER TO OVERCOME THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC, EUROPE MUST WORK WITH AFRICA ON ADVANCING EQUALITY, COOPERATING WITH WOMEN AND WOMEN’S ORGANISATIONS

After weeks of suffering the devastating effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it seems clear that this pandemic is affecting women, girls, boys and men differently and exacerbating inequalities, with a different impact depending on each person’s age or their economic and social vulnerability.

It is essential for all international actors to work together with the continent of Africa to fight against this pandemic and ensure health in the interest of everybody. The European Union and Africa must also be partners in health, because without health there can be no welfare or growth.

Organised civil society is responding to the crisis, developing strategies to fight the negative impacts of the pandemic, and the role of women’s organisations is particularly notable. They are especially active in Africa. Thanks to their strong social connectivity, these organisations are helping to raise awareness among the population about matters of prevention, as well as tending to the most vulnerable social groups.

We must make the most of this crisis and not miss the opportunity to improve the international community’s ability to respond to global threats, seeking solutions focusing on people’s needs, with human rights as the point of reference.

We cannot wait a minute longer for significant advances to be made towards achieving the MDGs and the 2030 Agenda. The pandemic should not be an excuse for unsustainable delays, which would be detrimental to people, the planet and peace.

Women around the world, and particularly African women, have the right to participate and demand to do so on equal terms in rebuilding our societies after the pandemic and in reforming a world that must make headway in global justice.

It is within this context that

The Foundation Women for Africa would like to make the following public statement

STATEMENT

The fight for equality is more important than ever in the midst of a crisis such as the one we are experiencing, in order to protect the rights of those who are most vulnerable. The world can take a giant leap forward if it trusts in the immense transformative power of equality.

In order to tackle this pandemic, a response is needed that matches the context and takes gender into account. Africa is no exception and the steps to be taken on the continent must take into account local needs, and especially the needs of women.

The European Union’s Global Strategy towards Africa must take into account joint work for health as a priority area for action and, therefore, must contemplate an strategic partnership in the area of Health.

Women must be an active, decisive part on committees, bodies and platforms set up to address the effects of the pandemic. For justice and for effectiveness, women must take part in these decision-making bodies, which without them would lack the most basic democratic legitimacy.

In these moments it is especially important to work to close the digital gap so that all women can access information and communication technologies and benefit from e- learning, which must also be prioritized and made available to them.

In these moments it is especially important to work to close the digital gap so that all women can access information and communication technologies and benefit from e. learning, which must also be prioritized and made available to them.

Essential public services must be bolstered, and especially health services. This pandemic cannot be tackled efficiently, nor future pandemics, if we do not ensure universal access to basic health services now. In a globalised world, the fragility of a country’s health system makes all of us vulnerable.

Women play a central role in providing health services, since they account for 70% of healthcare workers worldwide. Furthermore, the role of nurses and auxiliaries is especially relevant in Africa since they are absolutely essential given the shortage of doctors.

Countries must necessarily take into account the markedly different impact that confinement measures have on women, especially with the increase in gender violence. The relevant legal initiatives must be taken, and the necessary funds ensured to guarantee their rights and protection.

Rural women’s organisations are fundamental in guaranteeing food security by carrying out agricultural and farming jobs, including subsistence agriculture.

It is urgent and necessary to underline the importance of science and research as the engines behind development, including the contributions from female scientists, and in particular African women scientists. We call for an inclusive transferral of research results that will make it possible for potential vaccines and treatments to be distributed globally and equally among all countries, within the reach of the entire population.

This crisis is a threat to international peace and security, but it is also a great opportunity to reach world peace and solve the many complex conflicts that are still open in Africa. Faced with the Security Council’s deadlock, it is even more urgent that we listen to the call from women to cease hostilities and to foster dialogue in line with Resolution 1325. Peace negotiations must focus on the population’s real needs, as women are demanding, and not on the unbending stances which until now have made progress to reconciliation impossible

To sum up, this crisis is a huge opportunity to immediately review the global disparities and promote democratic values of equality and justice, placing life above all else, which in any case will require empowering women. The strategies and political action of the international community and the European Union towards Africa should take into account the significant role and power of Africa and the leadership of African women.

For all of these reasons, we urge the international community, the European Union, all governments and economic and social organisations to take the necessary action to fight this pandemic together, fostering equality and enabling active, direct participation from African women in order to help build a better future for everybody.

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