- Madam Tsi-tsi Fungurani, Senior Development Officer, Global Affairs Canada;
- My Sister Emma, UNDP Country Representative to the Republic of Djibouti and Headquarters of IGAD;
- Esteemed Representatives from the Government of Canada;
- Distinguished Representatives from UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa;
- My Dear IGAD Colleagues;
- Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
On behalf of the IGAD Secretariat, it is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this remarkable occasion, where we come together to forge a strategy on how to translate international and regional commitments on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment into a tangible reality within the IGAD Family.
As we gather here today, I cannot underscore deeply enough that Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment are the building blocks for lasting peace, economic cooperation, sustainable development and ultimately regional integration.
Truly, without gender equality, we have an unequal society. And justice cannot flourish in an environment of inequality. And similarly, sustainable development cannot be realized in ana atmosphere of injustice.
Therefore, in pursuit of equality, justice and sustainable development, a number of regional commitments and frameworks have been put in place including;
- UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 5 on Gender Equality;
- The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights;
- The AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa;
- The Addis Ababa Declaration on the Enhancement of Women’s Participationand Representation;
- The Beijing Platform of Action
- The Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women;
- And many more besides.This event today is therefore an invitation to explore all avenues at our disposal to address the challenge of gender disparity within our states and societies.Any successes we record towards achieving gender equality and female empowerment, will heavily depend on the levels of shared ownership, accountability and strategic leadership.
Therefore, we are here to lead from the front by jointly committing to be accountable as individuals and institutions under the framework of the UN Global Compact Ten Principles. We are to be champions of gender equality by addressing the root causes if gender discrimination, of as well as driving culture change through the establishment of new and positive practices.
In the adoption and rolling out of this Gender Equality Seal Certification process, we as IGAD commit to achieving the Gold Standard in the equal consideration and treatment of both men and women.
In this regard, IGAD intends to become a reference point on gender equality for local and regional organizations in the Horn of Africa. We intend to do this through self-assessment of those aspects of organizational change that are necessary towards achieving towards gender equality in our work in keeping with ILO Conventions.
I am therefore determined that this responsibility shall not fall solely on our Gender Program, but it will be an institution-wide, cross-divisional and inter-agency initiative. And in this regard, I count on all IGAD staff and partners to pull together in the same direction.
I therefore direct that all professional staff must familiarize themselves with the 10 steps we must take to earn the Gender Equality Seal. We must identify the personal responsibility each of us bears and the direct contribution each of us shall make towards realizing this important goal.
Consequently, I urge us all at IGAD to begin by subscribing to the universally accepted Women’s Empowerment Principles. Let us commit to use this process to amplify and codify the actions we have already been taking to improve gender mainstreaming and equality in IGAD. At this point, I must emphasize that it will be absolutely essential that we closely monitor and evaluate this process and its results.
I am confident that IGAD will prioritize the collection, publication as well as the quality assurance of gender-disaggregated, gender-specific and gender-sensitive data that will inform for evidence-based policy and gender-responsive interventions.
As I come to the conclusion of my remarks, I want to congratulate and commend everyone present here because it is a clear sign that you are all champions of gender equality.
With all of you here, our work is already 50% done. Let us achieve the remaining 50% by working learning and building this change together.
I also thank our partners at the UNDP who are the drivers of the Gender Equality Seal Programme and the Government of Canada for their support for us at IGAD in this transformative initiative.
I wish you all a pleasant stay and a transformative discussion.
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