Letter by African Women & Girls to the AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa

His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa
The President of the Republic of South Africa,
and Chairperson of the African Union for 2020
Email: media@presidency.gov.za and presidentrsa@presidency.gov.za
Your Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa,

RE: Your Action and Commitment to African Women and girls is urgently needed!

Congratulations on your assumption of the Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2020!  Your excellency, your ascension into this critical position comes at a significant period when globally, gender equality and women’s rights demand substantive importance and seeks transformative processes that guarantee a life of equality and dignity for all women and girls.
Sir, on this year 2020 and at the ushering in of a new decade, your leadership  stands at a pivotal point of significant change as the world convenes to mark the end of the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), the commemoration of 25 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and  the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace, and security, which aligns with the African Union’s theme for the year 2020;  “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
We have noted your commitment!
From our expansive experience spanning 32 years and working as a network organization with links in 47 African countries on gender equality and women’s rights, we the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) hereby submit to you our extremely urgent demands to realize the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights during your tenure.
Your excellency, as the Head of State of South Africa, you have demonstrated your political will for the safety of the women and girls of South Africa by your stated national level commitment to end violence against women and girls through the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) launched last year (2019) during the 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence.  African women have acknowledged and seen how you listened and acted firmly to the forceful voices and echoes of the lived realities of women and girls, we are certain that if all the commitments you signed to are implemented they are poised to make a difference.
Therefore your Excellency, as demonstrated in your commitment to pick up the gauntlet of ending all forms of violence against women and girls in South Africa, we demand that in your current position you extend the very same commitment to ensuring that no violence against women thrives anywhere in Africa…because no woman is truly free until all women are free!
Awukwazi ukulwa nesifo esibi ngomuthi omnandi! – (You cannot fight an evil disease with sweet medicine!)
As you assume this position as the AU Chairperson for 2020, we remind you that it is extremely concerning that persistent cases of femicides, rape, gender-based violence, xenophobic attacks, abduction and denial of teen pregnant girls to continue with school continue to rise across the continent. Your Excellency, the scourge of femicide taints an ugly dent in any leader’s capabilities to safeguard the lives of women and girls in their country. It is time that you and the Heads of States that you will preside over this year adopt an iron-fist approach against offenders as a sustainable deterrent, as the wise Zulu saying goes; Awukwazi ukulwa nesifo esibi ngomuthi omnandi (You cannot fight an evil disease with sweet medicine!)
The case in South Africa is representative of all our 55 African countries your Excellency! We therefore demand at this juncture that your forthright mandate to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Africa will be firm and stern.
We know that all African Heads of State and Government have a primary duty to address systemic and structural barriers that perpetuate gender inequalities and block the fulfillment of women’s human rights. However, despite progress in the enactment of legal and policy frameworks in some countries, a huge gap is lack of the requisite political will to match commitments with adequate investment in resources and reforms.
Why must Africa’s women suffer under your watch?
Your Excellency, why must women and girls in Africa suffer endlessly, demanding for their rights and dignity even in the existence of necessary policy frameworks? Why must women carry the yoke of victimhood year in, year out in our great Continent that was redeemed by the flowing blood of our foremothers and forefathers? Your Excellency, will you also sit back and watch the year go by without acting and committing to the rights of women and girls of Africa? Will you strip us further of our dignity and rights by merely brushing aside our rights to equality and dignity?
Your Excellency, we the women and girls of Africa demand your prioritized focus for women and girls of Africa within your mandate in 2020 as the Chairperson of the AU.
We urge you to not only lead in respecting and advancing our rights, but also engage all AU institutions and machineries towards practical and sustainable process to ending violence against women and girls.
We therefore substantively strongly call on you to:
(1). Deliver your commitment to ending violence against women at home and at their places of work by setting the pace in Africa and ratifying the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 190 and Recommendation on ending violence and harassment in the world of work including at the African Union Commission.  We are optimistic that as the chair of the AU, you will mobilize other Head of States to ratify, domesticate and submit to ILO progress reports on the progress of implementation.
(2) Ensure that African    States accelerate the implementation of the various laws, polices and frameworks like the Maputo Protocol, The Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals  and Africa Agenda 2063 that have been adopted to address discrimination of women and gender inequalities. In doing so, States should consider the intersectional identities of women considering the vulnerabilities of adolescent girls and young women, women living in rural areas and informal settings, women with disabilities and sexual minorities among other diversities. 
(3) Ensure structural transformation of African economies by adopting progressive tax systems that ensure resources for social services (education, health & social protection), undertake gender budgeting and adopt national action plans that prioritise women’s rights concerns, engender their national development plans and macro-economic policies and ensure that they are gender transformative and increase allocations for social protection in order to support women and girls to reduce and redistribute domestic and unpaid care work.
 (4) Silence all the guns blaring in Africa NOW! It is a travesty of leadership your Excellency for Africa to be defined as a Continent of endemic wars and conflicts.  It is even sadder to note that women and girls carry the entire brunt of these conflicts.   In line with the AU 2020 theme of silencing the guns in Africa, we urge you Mr. President to ensure annual budgetary allocations to military expenditure in all African countries are transparent and available to the public. Of utmost importance, African women and girls are convinced the reduction of the ever-increasing military budgets should be reallocated to country-specific development priorities such as health, education, environment and poverty eradication.
(5) Galvanize commitment from all African Heads of State and Governments to deliver on the promises of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for equality, sustainable development and peace. Your Excellency, there is a great opportunity towards positively addressing this during the Generation Equality Forum in Paris in July 2020.
Your Excellency, your leadership of our great Continent of Africa comes at a decade that has been declared as the “Decade of Action”. Let this opportunity to accelerate the equality and rights of Africa’s women and girls not pass you by.
Let your legacy be marked as the AU Chair who delivered his commitment to well-being of Africa’s women and girls.  We urge you to commit the requisite tangible resources for sustaining an equal and just African society, not only on behalf of South Africa as the president of the Republic of South but also on behalf of Africa as the chairperson of the African Union.
As the women and girls of Africa, we reiterate our hope that you will indeed listen to the voices of women and girls because they matter! Your excellency, remember Ozonda unina, uyazizonda! ( He who hates his mother, hates himself).
Signed by:  

Name Organization Country
Nyambura Gathumbi Hivos Kenya
Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Women for a Change Cameroon
Syed Hossen-Gooljar Allia Centre des Dames Mourides Mauritius
Nigest Haile Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) Ethiopia
Natome Rosemary Turkana County Kenya
Caroline Usikpedo Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development Int’l Nigeria
Naisola Likimani #SheDecides Kenya
Maria Malomalo Mwana Pwo Angola
Mama KOITE Doumbia Reseau Musonet Mali
Maureen Samulela Tresha Women and Law in Southern Africa Zambia
Caroline Njuguna National police service Kenya
Caroline Wanjiru Boots and brains Initiative Kenya
Mary Vuningoms Balikungeri Rwanda Women’s Network Rwanda
Saida Ali Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) Kenya
Shyleen Momanyi Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) Kenya
Melvine Obollah Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) Kenya
Nefertiti Fourman Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) Kenya
Erastus K. Rotich BELBUKO GROWERS ORG. Kenya
Kerubo Abuya Tabaka Ward, Uongozi Wa Utu Project Kenya
Okeke Ngozi Women Initiative For Peace and Good Governance Nigeria
ANdisiwe Kawa Kwanele-Enuf Foundation South Africa
Katambe Mariama Reseau national des femmes pour la paix (RENAFEF NIGER) Niger
Marylize Biubwa BI KIND INITIATIVE Kenya
Rogaya Osman PASED Sudan
Memory Kachambwa FEMNET Kenya
Edward Riungu Kamunde Njuri Ncheke ya Ameru council of elders elders Kenya
Donatha Gihana Rwanda Esther’s Initiative (REI) Rwanda
Una Kumba Thompson Women of Liberia Peace Network Liberia
Bibyshe M. Takubusoga Actions pour la Réinsertion Sociale de la Femme “ARSF” DRC
Venoranda Rebecca Kuboka Youth Changers Kenya Kenya
Kirui Zephaniah Individual Member, FEMNET Kenya
Sangeetah Seetulparsad Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS) Mauritius
Charity Binka, PhD Women, Media and Change (WOMEC) Ghana
Sesilia Shirima Young and Alive Initiative Tanzania
Lovetee D. Waynawhere The Inquirer Newspaper Liberia
Abubakar Moallim Development and Relief Solutions -DRESO Somalia
Sarah Hlupekile Longwe Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) Zambia
Marieme Baba Sy Association pou la Promotion de l’Egalite de Genre et des Droits Humais Mauritanie
Yvonne Ndirangu FEMNET Kenya
Louise nyota Réseau Femme et Développement, Refed/Nk DRC
Huguette Rusabika Focus Droits et Acces DRC
Ironsi Bose Women’s Rights and Health Project Nigeria
Tatu Said Young and Alive Initiative Tanzania
Mwanahamisi Singano FEMNET Tanzania
Wells Chataghalala Munthali Men for Gender Equality Now Malawi
Hepsibah Kemunto Health and Water Foundation Kenya
Edah Gondwe Chimya Zambia Alliance of Women Zambia
Eunice Musiime Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) Uganda
Mike Ishmeal Sichula The Speech Analyst Zambia
Dr Mary Otieno Kenyatta University Kenya
Elsie Alexander Putting Women First Trust Botswana
Souad Belaazi Association tunisienne de gouvernance et d’égalité des chances Tunisie
Zinsou Akoele Association Feminine la Lumière (AFEL) Togo
Nicolette Chinomona Spark Ideas Group Botswana
Dorothy Otieno FEMNET Kenya
Wairimu Munyinyi Wahome Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) Kenya
Ibrahima Sory Camara National advisory board of children and youth of Guinea Guinea
Pamela Ogalo Gender Migori County Kenya
Faith Phiri Girls Empowerment Network Malawi Malawi
Emma Njoka Girls Go Green Initiative Malawi
Christine Mutema YWCA LIVINGSTONE- District Zambia
Doo Aphane Swaziland Women’s Land Rights Network Eswatini
Esther Kimani Zamara Foundation Kenya
Sophia Malaki Mlimani Media Tanzania
Lorato Moalusi Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre Eswatini
Nono Kgafela- Mokoka Botswana Congress Party Eswatini
Salome Nthenya Nzuki Individual FEMNET member Kenya
Nonhlanhla Nelisiwe Dlamini Swaziland Young Women’s Foundation Swaziland
Pearl Shamukuni BGBVC Eswatini
Nelisiwe Mtshali CMAC Eswatini
Alice Mogwe DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights Eswatini
Mbeinda Diop Collectif Sénégalais des Africaines pour la Promotion de l’Education Relative à l’Environnement – COSAPERE Sénégal
Rai Sow Make Every Woman Count  (MEWC) Guinea
Ilunga Mujinga Anny Volontaires d’Autopromotion Solidaire “VAS” DRC
Souadou Diabate AMPJF MALI
Fatou Diouf Centre Africain pour l’Education aux Droits Humains(VAEDHU) Senegal
Jeanne Nzuzi Nsamba (CONAFED) Comité National Femme et Développement DRC
Nene Maïna BA Musonet Mali


For more information and/or to request for an interview, please contact:
FEMNET’s Head of Communication, Mildred Ngesa
m.ngesa@femnet.or.ke Tel: +254 727137853


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