African Union Commission and UNDP to launch programme for women empowerment and political participation

Apr 10, 2013

The African Union Commission (AUC), in close collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a regional Building an Enabling Environment for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Political Participation in Africa programme.

The programme, which is launched hot on the heels of the launch of the year long 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU)/AU “will Contribute to the reduction of gender inequalities, guarantee equal access to opportunities, rights and to empower African women to be equal partners in the continent’s development agenda” said the AUC Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.  The programme and its themes will also receive added attention during the month of July in the context of the monthly thematic focus areas of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the OAU/AU.  These celebrations are set to climax here in Addis Ababa from 19 to 27 May 2013 and the programme will inform the AU visioning exercise which is aptly known as Agenda 2063 (indicating priorities over the next fifty years).

Africa is on the cusp of a transformational development and we see the empowerment of women as a fundamental underpinning for the social, political and economic transformation of Africa”, added UNDP’s Africa Bureau Director Tegegnework Gettu, during the launch ceremony of the three year 12 million USD programme.

The programme aims to ensure that:

1.  By 2016 the African Union and RECs have an enhanced capacity to support gender responsive agricultural investment;

2.  By 2016, women and youth entrepreneurs access to financing and business development services;

3.  By 2016 women have an increased representation in elected political /leadership positions as well as in public boards, tribunals and commissions at the regional level;

4.  By 2016, there is an enhanced integration of gender equality in institutional planning, budgeting and monitoring processes at regional level (AU, RECs).

                                       FAST FACTS

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP, DEVELOPMENT AND POLITICS, Women and Female Youth Economic Empowerment

·   More than 168 Million women play an active role in the economies of sub- Saharan Africa[1]

·   The cost of society not investing in gender equality and female empowerment in the period 2005 to 2015 will widen the gender gaps in education at primary and secondary levels and are estimated to reduce economic growth by 0.4 percentage points annually[2]

·   Countries that invest in promoting the social and economic status of women tend to have lower poverty rates – an extra year of secondary school for girls can increase their future wage by 10 – 20%[3]


  1. Women in Agriculture

·   Women produce more than 80% of the continents food and yet they own roughly 1% of productive land[4]

·   If women had the same access to productive resources as men they could increase yields on their farms by 30%[5]

·   Women’s employment rate outside agriculture in 2009 stood at 18.8% in North Africa and 32.6% in the rest of Africa compared to 43% in Latin America and the Caribbean and 41.7% in East Asia[6]

 African Women’s Political participation and Leadership

·   The AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality commits to a Gender Parity principle with a target of 50% of female representation in all AU organs, RECs, National Governments, Parliaments and Judiciaries;

·   Women accounted for 21.2% of Members of Parliament in Africa in 2012, compared to 19.8% recorded in 2011[7]

·   Representation in National Parliaments is below 30% in most African countries with them ranging between 10% and 20%


[1] UN-Women, Progress of the World’s Women Fact Sheet: Sub-Saharan Africa 2011

[2] AUC, UNECA, AfDB and UNDP, Assessing progress in Africa Towards the Millennium development Goals: MDG Report 2012

[3] Ibid

[4] AU Chairperson’s Report on SDGEA, January 2012

[5] UNDP, Africa Human Development Report 2012, p49

[6] AUC, UNECA, AfDB and UNDP, Assessing progress in Africa Towards the Millennium development Goals: MDG Report 2012

[7] UNIFEM (2009), Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability, p21

Joint Press release issued by UNDP and the African Union Commission

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Ethiopia 
Go to UNDP Global