Africa Human Development Report 2016 launched in Mozambique with calls for greater women’s empowerment

Dec 6, 2016

Mozambique Minister for Gender, Children and Social Affairs (second right) with the UN Resident Coordinator and some of the participants at the HDR launch

The Government of Mozambique and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched the Africa Development Report 2016 under the theme “Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa” in Maputo on Monday, December 5, 2016. The event brought together representatives from the Government, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media for an interactive discussion on the key findings of the report and their relevance for the Mozambique context.

This report analyses the political, economic and social drivers that hinder African women’s advancement and proposes policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap. These include addressing the inconsistencies between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; addressing harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Action, H.E. Cidália Chaúque Oliveira told the audience that the “promotion of equality between men and women is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic and a priority of the Government of Mozambique.”

The Minister added that the county is committed to building a society inspired by the values of security, solidarity, protection, justice and the social welfare for all.

“In order to materialize the principle of equality, our country has incorporated into the internal legal framework several international and regional instruments, with emphasis on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action; Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights related to the Rights of Women; SADC Gender Declaration; and the Solemn Declaration of the African Union on Gender Equality; just to name a few,” the Minister explained.

According to Minister, the Mozambican State is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs), namely Objective 5, which states: "achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls". Thus the country has approved policies, laws, plans and programs promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as the creation of mechanisms to prevent and combat violence, as well as to accelerate the Discriminatory practices against women and contribute to Human Development.

Yet, some of the challenges that prevail in the main areas of intervention: education, health and employment; access to justice and productive resources; participation in decision-making bodies, combating violence against women and girls, sensitive and gender budgeting, promotion of human rights; prevention of premature marriages; admission of girls to school and higher education; maternal and child mortality reduction; prevention and control of breast, uterine and fistula cancer; fight against malnutrition; and reducing girls' vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.

The way forward is still long, but we are sure that with determination, selfless commitment and the active involvement of men, we will be able to achieve the goals of one day living in a world without violence and discrimination where women and men can enjoy the same rights and opportunities, noted the Gender Minister.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative(RC/RR) in Mozambique, Ms. Marcia de Castro observed that the importance of gender equality is not a new theme; “it is present in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 68 years ago, it has also been and is part of the Millennium Declaration 15 years ago, and also one of the 17 goals of the new sustainable development agenda 2030 passed in September last year,” she told the audience.

“These three examples, as well as dozens of national, regional and global pacts, recognize that the promotion of human rights and the elimination of discrimination and disparities between men and women, girls and boys, are a fundamental step towards full, sustainable and inclusive development,” she added.

The RC/RR also observed that African women account for 87 percent of men's human development outcomes, African women account for 66% of all non-agricultural informal sector jobs and earn 30% less than men in the same informal non-agricultural sector (70 cents for every dollar made by men), only between 7 and 30 per cent of all private enterprises on the African continent hire women in managerial positions.

Ms. de Castro pointed out that gender equality is an imperative towards the achievement of the SDGs.  “This new report on human development states that gender inequality costs US $ 95 billion a year in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching US $ 105 billion in 2014 - or six percent of the region's GDP.” 

The removal of these and many other gender inequalities, remains a major challenge and a major impediment to the structural economic and social transformation that continues to be the goal of all African countries.

After declaring 2015 as the Year of Women's Empowerment and Development for Agenda 2063; and 2016 as the Year of Human Rights with a focus on Women's Rights, the commitment of the countries of the region to achieve gender equality and the realization of women's rights is therefore very clear.

This new report looks at how to address persistent gender disparities in all economic, social, environmental and political spheres, emphasizing the overarching principle that “no one should be left behind”.  It advocates that giving greater attention to gender equality - will support faster and more inclusive human development and economic growth for Africa; policies and programs that leave out or do not protect women are counterproductive to development; accelerating gender equality must be seen as a central function of government. It requires efforts by national and local governments, civil society and the private sector; and addressing gender equality in a holistic way will contribute to the advancement of both the United Nations Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.

This is the second African Human Development Report produced by the UNDP. The first was published in 2012, and addressed the issue of food security in the continent.