The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Monday named President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the “AU Gender Champion” for 2017.
The award, which is in recognition of President Akufo-Addo’s leading role in championing the empowerment of women, was given to him at the opening of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, which is currently on-going in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Guinean President and Chairperson of the African Union, Professor Alpha Condé, who made the announcement, explained that the decision taken by UNECA to confer the award on President Akufo-Addo was “in recognition of your efforts in gender equality at continental level”.
Prior to receiving the award, the President had, earlier this year, been appointed as Chairperson of the AU’s Committee on Gender and Development, by the AU Chairperson, President Alpha Condé.
President Akufo-Addo is currently participating in the AU meeting of Heads of State, which is taking place under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth”.
Issues being discussed include: Institutional reforms of the AU; roadmap of practical steps to silence guns in Africa by 2020; the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA); and the implementation of Agenda 2063 – “The strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years”.
It will be recalled that at the 28th AU Summit, African leaders signed up to the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement, whose purpose is to ensure significant growth of Intra-Africa trade, as well as assisting countries on the continent use trade more effectively as an engine of growth and for sustainable development.
The CFTA would, amongst others, reduce the vulnerability of the continent to external shocks, and would also enhance the participation of Africa in global trade as a respectable partner, thereby reducing the continent’s dependence on foreign aid and external borrowing.
That meeting also agreed on new, adequate, predictable and sustainable ways of financing the African Union, so as to be able to achieve its desired objectives. The African leaders present agreed that the constant resort to external funding means that the AU would be susceptible to external influences. Self-sustaining mechanisms, they said, have to be developed to demonstrate Africa’s commitment to its regional objectives and agenda.
Also, the Heads of State considered proposals from the AU Reforms Committee, headed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, aimed at reforming the continental body, so as to make it more relevant to the needs and aspirations of the African peoples.