August 27-28th 2016 was a historic moment for Kenya when they finally hosted the 6th edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). This edition marked the first time the summit was being held out of Japan since its inception. The summit being held in Africa means that Africans got the chance to be in the driving seat in shaping the agenda. This also presented an opportunity to foster ownership of the TICAD process, all its initiatives and all it stands for.
Time and again, backed by growing economies, increased access to education opportunities and discovery of natural resources, there is an unchallenged notion that Africa should be able to fund her development projects without relying wholly on donors and financial aid. The just concluded TICADVI offered Africa a chance to own her development projects including using the platform to reiterate that Africa needs trade and not aid. TICADVI provided an opportune implementation phase that is meant to foster ownership and participation, geared towards helping Africa realize her full potential.
Across Africa, gender inequality remains a persistent bug. Despite the economic progress witnessed by different countries, gender equality is largely ignored. Women and girls still remain marginalized and their voices excluded from decision making and leadership spheres. To date some harmful pervasive practices such as early child marriage & FGM (female genital mutilation) are still widespread, normalized and in some instances there is no legislation to criminalize such violations.
The Africa we want to see is one where women are treated with dignity and women rights respected. An Africa where government fund and support gender equality and women’s empowerment. TICAD-VI provided a platform for voices to be put forward in regards to the need to fund gender sensitive and responsive bills and budget towards an all inclusive Africa.
TICAD gave us a chance to push for action, demand for those in power to put their money where their mouths are and follow up their promises with actions to ensure full implementations of SDGs. This discussion should encompass all the development priorities articulated within the 17 goals and 169 targets.
Unaffordable health services continue to drag Africa behind. Universal health coverage should be leveraged to create impact on socio-economic development of African nations. Universal access to comprehensive healthcare is a basic human right and is critical to ensuring well-being of individuals, of the man-power at our disposal. During TICAD-VI summit, Japan and the African Nations made a pledge to fight communicable diseases, in the process preserving human lives that will play a huge role in Africa’s economic growth.
It is the hope of the African people, the civil society as well as activists that the governments will facilitate in the achievement of issues raised during TICAD-VI. That the governments will implement and honor the pledges they made during TICAD-VI. That soon, we will the achieve the Africa we want not forgetting the SDGs. Commitments from TICAD If implemented and honored will go a long way in ensuring that Africa advances on the health, industrialization and social stability fronts which are critical pillars of the TICAD process.
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By Catherine Nyambura, Advocacy Programme Associate, FEMNET – email: prog-associate