On 13 – 14 February 2023, ACCORD participated in the 39th Gender Is My Agenda (GIMAC) Pre-Summit Meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This meeting, highlighted the 2023 AU theme of the year “Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation” and brought together more than one hundred and eighty participants.
The meeting provided a platform for civil society organisations to discuss opportunities in which the AfCFTA can create a gender-inclusive implementation plan, and inspire commitment for action from the African Union (AU) mechanisms responsible for the implementation of the AfCFTA. The network’s eight thematic clusters guided the key topics discussed during the meeting, and addressed questions that included: what are the main trade barriers that African women and youth face? What are the specific impacts of the AfCFTA on the human rights of women and girls? What are the possible challenges in achieving inclusive implementation, and how can women, youth and girls participating in both the formal and informal sectors benefit from the AfCFTA.
ACCORD’s Programme Officer, Ms. Lwandile Moyo moderated the session on peace and security, which examined the AfCFTA as a driver for continental peace and security, with a specific focus on the linkages between the AfCFTA and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. In so doing, the panel presented a case study on the experiences of women cross-border traders working between the boarders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi; and shared experiences of working with women in trade in conflict settings. The discussions highlighted the impact of conflict, the positive role of local organisations, and how opportunities within AfCFTA can be seized.
The recommendations presented during the meeting included the need to report the realities of women in trade, especially the challenges they face. This will give guidelines on how to ensure their effective inclusion and protection within the AfCFTA agreement. In addition, recognize that peace and security are critical prerequisites for sustainable economic development. Without peace and security, it is challenging to create the necessary conditions for trade and investment to thrive.
Following the Pre-Summit Meeting, partners and steering committee members of the Network convened and discussed on ways in which to improve the working modalities of the network. The meeting also discussed the next steps for each of the clusters in light of the recommendations and lessons learned from the pre-summit meeting.