From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 68 years ago, to the Millennium Declaration 15 years ago, and to the Sustainable Development Goals today, global attention remains focused on promoting human rights and eliminating discrimination and inequitable outcomesfor women, men, girls and boys. However, despite widespread recognition of women's rights and the benefits that accrue to all of society from equitable treatment and access to resources and opportunities for women and men, inequalities persist. At the regional and national levels, there is growing recognition that as African women attain higher measures of economic and social well-being, benefits accrue to all of society; despite this growing understanding, removing inequalities for women has not kept pace. Significant gaps between men's and women's opportunities remain a major challenge and a severe impediment to structural economic and social transformation that is still the goal of all African countries.
The evolving development landscape – with its emerging opportunities, vulnerabilities and shocks – makes it imperative for Africa to accelerate the advancement of sustainable and equitable human development. This can be achieved by building economic, social and environmental resilience for women and men, enhancing their productivity, and accelerating the pace of structural economic transformation in the region. This report explores where and how progress in gender equality has been made and how best to accelerate the pace of gender advancement in Africa. Its focus on gender equality comes at a time of tremendous change across the continent, including recent dynamics of social and economic transformation that have resulted in significant strides in Africa's human development.
This report pinpoints the intersection between political and economic processes, and presents a clear agenda for action. The agenda provides an approach to help African countries more forcefully confront the challenge and accelerate progress on gender equality and women's empowerment. The agenda on gender equality can support progress toward Africa's Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While SDG 5 focuses specifically on gender equality, addressing gender issues more vigorously and comprehensively will expediteefforts by governments and other stakeholders to achieve many, if not all, of the other SDGsdue to the role and position that women play across all of society and all sectors.