Thursday, 20 September 2007

Women’s rights nearly absent from EU aid plans, Eurostep finds

Programmes focused on reducing women’s poverty ar largely absent from a new series of EU aid plans for countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), a Eurostep analysis has found. The EU institutions are currently assessing the strategy papers that will guide how nearly €23bn is spent in the ACP from the beginning of next year until 2013. After contacting the European Commission’s offices in the 77 ACP states qualifying for aid, Eurostep has only been able to identify two cases where funding has been allocated to support women-specific issues.

Eurostep believes that poverty will not be eradicated unless inequalities between men and women are addressed. About 70% of all victims of poverty are female, with women usually earning less (even for the same work) and controlling fewer resources than men and frequently excluded from political decision-making on issues that affect them and their families directly. The lack of focus on gender in the aid plans is inconsistent with the Commission’s stated policy of ensuring that woman’s needs and rights are addressed by a two-pronged approach. The first component of this approach is that gender issues have to be taken into account in all areas of policy through a process known as ‘mainstreaming’. The second is that mainstreaming must be combined with programmes specifically tailored towards empowering women.

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