African governments urged to support gender equality for sustainable development

Advocates for the rights of women and girls in Africa have called on their governments to support gender equality in totality in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The group raised concerns on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) saying several governments, including some African governments, expressed their reservations during negotiations stage on goals and targets related to SRHR.

The calls came as African Heads of State and Government are expected to join their counterparts in New York from September 25th-27th to adopt the Post-2015 development agenda in a landmark Summit that crowns several years of consultations and negotiations.

The agenda is titled Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

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“We therefore urge our Heads of State and Government to stand in solidarity with the millions of African women and girls affected by poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and explicitly support the SRHR targets 3.7 and 5.6 in the Post-2015 development agenda without any reservation”,  Solidarity for African Women's Rights said in a statement Tuesday.

They noted that African continent has some of the most progressive and inclusive regional instruments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, adopted by all 54 member states of the African Union (AU).

The group cited The Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2006), which aims to achieve universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services by 2015. They also noted The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) popularly known as ‘Maputo Protocol’ which contains explicit provisions on the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health and the Common Africa Position (CAP) developed through wide consultation of different African stakeholders and adopted by the African Heads of State and Government as its united position on the Post-2015 development agenda.

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The advocates further said, under the leadership and mechanisms of the AU, some instruments have been implemented to various degrees in individual member states, with increasing emphasis on monitoring and accountability.

The African Heads of State and Government in an AU summit in June, re-affirmed their commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights. They resolved to ensure that SRHR of African women are implemented and mutually accounted for in the existing commitments to women’s reproductive health and rights.

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Africa has made commitments in line with the two key targets on SRHR in the Sustainable Development Goals.

First, is to ensure that by 2030, there is universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

Second commitment is to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

The two commitments are based on regional and national commitments at constitutional, legal and policy levels.

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gender equalitywomen rights