ADDIS ABABA, March 9– The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a major setback on Africa‘s recent gains concerning gender equality and women empowerment.
The AU Commission Chairperson made the remarks in his statement on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, which is marked annually on March 8. This year’s edition is being marked under the theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.”
“COVID-19 has brought to light the persistence of the difficult conditions of African women,” the chairperson of the 55-member pan African bloc said.According to Mahamat, the COVID-19 pandemic “marked a worrying setback in achievements and progress, particularly in terms of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” “COVID-19 accentuated gender-based violence, to such an extent that the COVID-19 has been described as a silent pandemic,” he emphasized.He stressed that this year’s theme reflects the determination of the international community to support gender equality and the empowerment of women, through their participation and representation at the level of all decision-making bodies.
Equality and the empowerment of women are seen as factors for the development of African women, as an opportunity to get them out of their deplorable conditions, made up of violence, exclusion and prejudice, he stressed.
Mahamat, however, said that violence, exclusion and prejudice exist and persist in most African countries, where women and girls have continued to be the primary victims of the conflicts and crises afflicting the continent.
“We must break this silence and put an end to these acts of violence,” he argued.
African women despite accounting for about 41 percent of COVID-19 cases suffered immensely from social and economic disruptions linked to the pandemic including violence, job losses, and poverty, it was noted.Xinhua