Between 31st September and 1st October, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) across Africa met in Accra, Ghana to review progress on the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD) 2014. The two-day consultative meeting was an opportunity for the CSOs to review the gains, the gaps and the lessons learned since the adoption of the declaration.
The deliberations were guided by The African Population and Development Index (APDI) which provides detailed and comprehensive analysis based on clear indicators for improved monitoring and reporting by governments. The report further outlines a more standard manner of comparing countries. Key areas that centred the discussion included Health, Dignity and Gender Equality, Peace and Mobility, Governance, Data and Statistics as well as International Cooperation and Partnerships.
Participants arrived at a number of recommendations that were forwarded to an Experts team for a detailed review. The outcome document was then shared with Ministers across Africa Union (AU) Member countries for further review, dialogue and assent. The ministerial meeting took place between 4th and 5th October.
CSOs called for prioritized and adequate finance to comprehensive, quality and integrated health services including sexual and reproductive health services. This requires that countries meet the previously recommended 15% of their budget expenditure for health as per Abuja declaration and on the provisions for expenditure on reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) as per the 2016-2030 revised Maputo Plan of Action.
CSO’s asked for implementation of existing policies including the recently revised Maputo Plan of Action 2016-2030 on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
CSO’s realize that people’s SRHR remain critical to achieving AADPD. They have therefore called upon member states to ratify, domesticate, implement and lift any reservations on:
1. The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa
2. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Africa is yet to be realised, and continues to be contested, despite progress made. CSO’s have called for provision of good and quality development of comprehensive Adolescent and youth health strategies and programs which include SRHR and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
Lastly, CSO’s requested for development of health strategies and plans that address increasing HIV prevalence in countries; and mechanisms that adapt to the impact of climate on communities in particular poor, marginalized and underserved communities.
DIGNITY AND EQUALITY
CSOs called for a review, amendment, harmonization and enforcement of laws and policies that address discriminatory practices and customs that have an impact on marginalized populations including women, girls, PWDs and elderly people in accordance with the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.
In the same token, CSOs asked governments to align national legislation and policies with ratified regional and international instruments, and accelerated realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Regarding sexual and reproductive heath rights, CSOs called for a review of legal and policy barriers to access sexual and reproductive health services for all including structural barriers espoused in policies such as spousal and parental consent, for women and young people and others that hinder access for other vulnerable populations;
Women and young people remain largely excluded from decision making tables, CSOs asked for increased and enhanced participation of young people and women’s in decision-making and leadership positions at all levels through effective implementation of appropriate policies, programs and affirmative action; Provision of universal access to affordable quality, comprehensive education and skills development, including retention and completion, in a safe and participatory environment, at all levels of education.
Similarly, CSOs opined for focus on the unique needs of persons with disabilities, disadvantaged, marginalized, underserved and key populations with regard to their rights to health, nutrition, mental health for all and education at all levels.
CSOs further called for sustained dignity of most vulnerable people through economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, capacity building and support and implementation of comprehensive social protection programs
Lastly but also importantly, CSO’s requested for focus on decent jobs in line with international labor standards and address structural causes of inequalities in the care economy by recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work done by women and girls which hinder acquiring of necessary education, training and participation in the economic sector.