14 Jun

In its endogenous and ambitious plan of transformation, Agenda 2063, the African Union has emphasized the need for protection, and preservation of human rights in the continent. The third aspiration spells out a desire for a continent where good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law abound. The blueprint further urges for gender mainstreaming with the objective to achieve development that is inclusive with talents of women, men, and youth counting in the process.

To realize these objectives, a visiting scholar at the Pan African University urges for more targeted and actionable policy frameworks in African countries. Prof. Benigna Zimba averred that the continent had codified a number of blueprints on gender and human rights, yet implementation of such policies remains scanty.

In many countries, women talent and energy are yet to be tapped and harmful practices such as death penalty are still on in parts of Africa.  Contrary to the blanket push for representation of either gender in a given economy sector, Prof. Zimba says, mainstreaming should proceed on the basis of meritocracy and suitability. “We therefore need to sensitize our societies towards attitudinal changes for certain goals cannot be achieved through legislation as we make the shift from ‘women in development’ to ‘gender in development’,” she explains.

Prof. Zimba hopes that initiatives like PAU would entrench appreciation of gender and labour rights; especially when
graduates are deployed outside their countries of origin. The University, she adds, is key in enlisting more qualified women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The don also calls for adoption of good governance in the continent; underscoring that it is one way of ensuring Africa’s resources can be harnessed for socio-economic transformation. “If you are a mathematician, you must really understand what numbers you are counting and it impinges on best practices of governance,” she says.

Benigna Zimba is Associate Professor, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, History Department, Maputo – Mozambique. Her research interests cover: women and gender, slave trade and slavery in South-eastern Africa and global slave Diaspora in the Indian Ocean. She was speaking at the PAU Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) where she taught a course on gender and human rights in Africa.