Source: African Union


The idea of a Women’s Decade was hatched in 1975 by the United Nations at the First World conference on Women that was held in Mexico City. Since then, African women have been involved, and continue to participate in local and international consultations on women’s rights and gender equality. African women’s contributions have enriched discussions at the subsequent Women Conferences in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995).

At their Extra-Ordinary Meeting of Ministers of Gender and Women Affairs in Maseru, Lesotho in December 2008, the Africa Union (AU) Ministers for Gender and Women’s Affairs called on the AU to declare 2010 – 2020 as African Women’s Decade, and undertake wide consultations to ensure that the Decade is a success. The Ministers’ proposal was adopted by Assembly Dec. 487 (XIX) which declared 2010 – 2020 as African Women’s Decade.

The Commission then organized a Brainstorming Roundtable at the premises of the AU Permanent Mission to the UN on 01 March 2009 at the margins of the 53rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW); which provided an opportunity for the Ministers’ meeting in New York and for African Women Leaders to reflect on the Decision on the Women’s Decade.

The objective of the Brainstorming Roundtable was to notify Hon Ministers of the Assembly Decision and to brainstorm on the African Women’s Decade roll out as proposed by the Maseru meeting. They requested the Commission to hold a meeting of National Gender machineries to develop a Road Map by May 2009.

Subsequently the Commission convened a meeting of Gender Machineries from 6 to 8 May 2009, back to back with a meeting on reporting on the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), in which a draft Road Map for the rolling out of the Women’s Decade was developed.

The Commission finalized the draft Road Map developed in Banjul, for presentation to the Experts and Ministerial meeting of Ministers in charge of Gender and Women’s Affairs scheduled for 16 to 21 November 2009 back to back with the 8th African Regional Conference on Beijing +15.

Thereafter, in an effort to kick start the activities of the Decade, the Women Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD) held a one day Planning Meeting in March 2010 on activities to be carried out in preparation for the launching of the AWD at the margins of the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which was being held in New York from 1st to 12th March 2010.

The AU took advantage of the presence and participation of Gender Ministers, Experts and CSOs at the 54th CSW Session to hold the Planning Meeting, as this provided an opportunity for the AU Commission to agree on the roll-out activities for the launching of the African Women’s Decade. The Meeting therefore discussed activities to be carried out at the local, national, regional and continental levels, agreed on the time lines as well as set up Working Committees while identifying thematic leaders for the 10 themes of the Decade.

The adoption of the AU Gender Policy by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government at their February 2009 Session, and its implementation offers an opportunity for the advancement and achievement of gender equality between men and women, as well as facilitating the inclusion of gender issues in the African agenda.



The aim of the African Women’s Decade is to advance gender equality by accelerating implementation of Dakar, Beijing and AU Assembly Decisions on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), through dual top down and bottom up approach which is inclusive of grassroots participation.


The Continental Launch activities will take place in Nairobi Kenya on the 15 October 2010. This Launch will be preceded by important forums, including:

- NGO Forum and Thematic Caucuses 7-8 October

- Decades Working Committees- 9 October

- Experts Meeting – 10-11 October

- Ministerial Meeting – 14th October

The climax will be on the 15 October, the International Rural Women’s Day, which has been chosen for the Launch in line with the theme of the Decade, which is “Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”, This historical Launch coincides with the Silver Jubilee of the United Nations (UN) Decade for Women which ended in 1985.

The Launch will be attended by African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government, First Ladies, Vice Presidents, AU Ministers of Women, Gender, Social Development, UN Agencies, Men champions for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Gender Activist, Grassroots women, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Academia, the Private Sector among others.


The Decade will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will be from 2010 to 2015 and the second phase will be from 2015 to 2020. There will be reviews in 2015, back to back with the MDG Review and at the end of the Decade in 2020. In preparation for the official launching of the African Women’s Decade, which is expected to take place in October 2010, the Road map proposes that the AU should strategically align the Decade programme to events in 2010 such as:

  1. The launching of Fund for African Women

  2. International Women’s Day - 8th March

  3. 54th Session of the CSW and Beijing +15 Review – March

  4. African Women Entrepreneurs Trade Exhibition, Cairo, 20-22 April 2010

  5. African Day Events - 25th May

  6. Soccer World Cup in South Africa – June 2010

  7. AU Kampala Summit – July 2010

  8. Pan African Women Day - 31 July 2010

  9. Africa Union Day 9th September

  10. China Expo September 2010

  11. Continental Launch of the African Women’s Decade


Additional Resources


The Road Map Of The African Women's Decade 2010-2020
Walking The Talk - Gender Equality in The African Union
The Planning Meeting on The African Women's Decade at The Margins of The 54th Session of the CSW

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