Unlocking Africa's moment

MUCH more needs to be done to unleash the potential of Africa's women and children.

With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we know what is needed to unleash the potential of women and children around the globe and particularly those in Africa.

But just knowing is not enough - we need to take action and take it now.

Prior to the September High level Summit on MDGs in New York, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon noted that this year was a "landmark year for gender issues" with the 15th anniversary of the Beijing declaration and platform for action and the 10th anniversary of security council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security.

The outcome document of the three-day summit reaffirms world leaders' commitment to the MDGs and sets out a concrete action agenda for achieving the goals by 2015.

Based on examples of success and lessons learnt over the last 10 years, the document spells out specific steps to be taken by all stakeholders to accelerate progress on each of the eight goals.

It also affirms that, despite setbacks due to the economic and financial crises, remarkable progress has been made on fighting poverty, increasing school enrolment and improving health in many countries, and the goals remain achievable.

As African Monitor we note that to its credit the outcome document is comprehensive, touching on almost everything that needs to be addressed if MDGs are to be met.

Additionally the presence of some specificities on commitments is a plus as these are measurable and can be tracked.

The specific amounts committed by stakeholders are also a step in the right direction.

In a major push to accelerate progress on women's and children's health, a number of heads of state and government from developed and developing countries, along with the private sector, foundations, international organisations, civil society and research organisations, pledged more than $40billion (about R273billion) in resources over the next five years.

The global strategy for women and children's health has the potential of saving the lives of more than 16million women and children, preventing 33million unwanted pregnancies, protecting 120million children from pneumonia and 88million children from stunting due to malnutrition, advancing the control of deadly diseases such as malaria and HIV-Aids, and ensuring access for women and children to quality health facilities and skilled health workers.

Additionally, women leadership in the utilisation of these resources is vital because women know best where the problems are.

The African Monitor firmly believes that to achieve the MDGs, especially the global strategy for women and children's health requires the creative use of both new and existing resources.

Partnerships are critical to mobilise national governments, multilateral institutions and civil society into new ways of working that can effect sustainable change on a large scale and across the full range of development challenges.

At African Monitor, while we are passionate about the fact that policies and programmes need to result in tangible change to the lives of the poor, we understand that service delivery and community based interventions are only one part of where faith-based organisation need to be involved.

Advocacy is the other most critical component of ensuring that all global decisions are experienced in a positive way by the intended target group of people.

Decisively addressing the plight of women and children in Africa is one of the ingredients for unlocking the African moment!

  • Archbishop Ndungane is the president and founder of the African Monitor

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