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The subject of empowerment of women has become a burning issue all over the world. In 2010, the African Union (AU), at International Day for Rural Women in Nairobi, Kenya, officially launched the African Women’s Decade (AWD), an initiative to advance gender equality through the acceleration and implementation of global and regional commitments on gender equality and women empowerment. The United Nations, at the First World conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975, had conceived the idea of a Women Decade for 2010 -2020 with reviews in 2015 and 2020.
Agenda 2063 is the continent’s 50-year structural trans-formation and development agenda and its sixth Aspiration is “An Africa where development is people-driven, unleashing the potential of women and youth”. Africa should be a continent where the critical role of women in Africa‘s transformation is recognised and their proactively harnessed, with all forms of violence and discrimination (social, economic, political) against women and girls would have been eliminated and they would fully enjoy all their human rights.
For more action and first review, AU declared 2015 the Year of “Women Empowerment and Development”. Moving forward, again, at the 26th Ordinary Summit of the African Union, 21st-31st January, 2016, AU Headquarters, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, AU declared the year 2016 as the “Africa Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
The UN 2030 Agenda (World vision 2030) for Sustainable Development envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity. A just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
According to Ms. Geraldine J. Fraser-Moleketi, African Development Bank Special Envoy on Gender (AfDB 2015), women in Africa face an array of barriers that prevent them from playing their roles to their full potential despite being active in various sectors.
This is echoed by Ms. Gladys Mutukwa of the Zimbabwe-based non-governmental organization Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) highlights that Poverty in Africa continues to wear a woman’s face as they remain at the bottom of the social hierarchy, with poor access to land, credit, health and education.
In 2015, ARSO and APEX organised a successful 3rd Continental Standardisation Essay Competition with the theme “How standards contribute to Women’s Empowerment and Development”. Ms. Hope Mutie from Kenya emerged the Overall Winner in a completion where a total of 41 essays from 8 African countries Cameroon, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe were received. The participants provided very informative essays with great insight on how standards contribute to Women’s Empowerment and Development, with a focus on:
1. How standards accelerate women’s empowerment and development
2. The role of women in the development with regards to Standards
3. Standards contribution to Women in Leadership, Education, Traditional Medicine, Beauty and Cosmetics industries, Health Services and Cross border trade.
4. The role of standards in women’s empowerment and development
Based on the declaration of the AU for the 2016, the 4th Continental Standardisation Essay Competition is being organised under the theme “Role of Standardisation in Facilitating Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
Once again, as future policy makers and leaders, the youth are expected to discuss the issues of Women’s rights and how standards play a role in protecting women’s rights. We welcome all who are eligible to participate and make their voices heard.
The Winners of the 3rd Essay Competition are:
|One||Hope Katanu Mutie||Female||Kenya|
|Two||Denis Evarist Nubha||Male||Tanzania|
|Three||Ogbaga, Sunday Thomas||Male||Nigeria|
|Six||Erick Thomas Mnunguli||Male||Tanzania|
|Eight||Guy Levi Nsanzishimwe||Male||Rwanda|