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UN to partner China to advance women's welfare in Africa

Updated: 2015-06-15 09:00

JOHANNESBURG - The chief of the United Nations women's agency on Sunday said the agency is partnering China to raise the gender-sensitiveness of infrastructure investors in regions where women's welfare lack sufficient protection.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka made the remarks at the ongoing 25th African Union Summit with a theme on women empowerment.

Africa, as a less developed region, faces tremendous challenges in terms of protecting women's rights. Child marriage, violence against women, and high maternal mortality rates are among a number of urgent issues Africa faces.

Ngcuka said that China and UN Women will co-host a global women summit in September as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women's rights.

"We are asking countries to commit to what they can do in their own country. But if they are also countries that invest in other countries or provide overseas development and funding, they must also commit to use their investment as well as their overseas development assistance to address the issues in those that were found to be challenging," said the executive director.

"We are also hoping that china would seize this as an opportunity, in its investment in Africa in particular, to invest in Africa in a manner that is gender-sensitive," she said.

China is among a handful of countries that invest heavily in Africa, particularly in infrastructure, to spur the continent's economic development.

Ngcuka gave an example explaining gender-sensitive investment, saying that building sanitation facilities in schools is a critical intervention in sustaining the presence of girls in schools as girls need their privacy.

"If china is investing in infrastructure in Africa, it must also look at infrastructures that benefit women. It must see women as entrepreneurs who can participate in the projects," she added.

The September summit, which is to take place in New York, is aimed to enhance the implementation of and Platform for Action, promote new political commitments in achieving post-2015 agenda in women development and find new financial support.

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