ACP YPN on Women in Conflict at Press Café

On 19th October, Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Programme Manager and SDG5 Expert presented a Press café on ‘women in conflict’ at the Thon Hotel EU in Brussels. Celine animated the discussion with Angelika Hild (Founder of European Young Feminists) and was joined by other high-level speakers, including Olga Frańczak (European Women’s Lobby); Nada de Murashkin (UN mission in Darfur); Isabella Eisenberg (Formerly with Relief and Reconciliation for Syria). This was part of a Networking series organised by ISC Paris and World Solidarity Forum where each participant had the opportunity to join a discussion circle, which covered the topics of women’s treatment; women disabled by war; women taking a stand (in which Celine intervened) and women in refuge.

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Celine’s intervention focused on how communication tools are enabling women in the global South to take a stand in conflict and non-conflict zones by enhancing and fostering political participation and activism. To illustrate this, Celine used the example of #StopRacismatPretoriaGirlshigh movement and the role played by women in Colombia in the elaboration of a peace agreement.  Celine underlined that social media, especially when well-used, has transformative power i.e. social media can foster international solidarity and the fight against discrimination, not only at the political level but throughout the world by changing lives. She also recognised that young women are now leading many movements, and in her opinion this confirms that youth want to be more involved in political dialogues and the social development of their countries.

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The discussion also recognised the limits of social media, which do not always guarantee political and positive actions toward equality. For example, the movement #blacklivesmatter raised the question of the limits of the communication tools in creating political pressure and dialogue at the political level. The audience believed that to counter such negative effects more efforst were needed to continuously empower women and young people to enable them to take part in political debate and negotiation in order to improve their rights in a long term. Celine concluded the session by quoting Aung San Suu Kyi “Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

By Ms. Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Programme Manager on EU relations and SDG5 Expert.

Want to know more about Women in conflict and the use of mediaGet in touch with CelineLinkedIn & @fesira

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ACP YPN on EPAs at German Ministry for Economic Development

On 19th October 2016, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder and President and Researcher on EU-ACP trade affairs at the University of Gent, spoke on the high-level panel at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development alongside: Thomas Silberhorn, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Berlin); Dr. Berhard Felmberg, Director at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; Dr. San Bilal, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM); Dr. Evita Schmieg, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) on the subject of “Sustainability and human rights in EPAs: A comparative analysis between the Caribbean and African EPAs.

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Yentyl discussed three important issues related to (1) the role of civil society in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); (2) Sustainability and human rights in practice and (3) how the African EPAs cans become a benchmark for the Caribbean EPA.

  1. First, Yentyl explained that in the Gent University ECDPM Briefing note 93 on Civil Society & EPAs show that there is an inconsistent approach to civil society in EU trade agreements, between the EU trade agreements since EU-South Korea and the ‘EU Global Strategy’ on the one hand and the EU ACP EPAs on the other. The EU-Eastern African Community (EAC) and the EU-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) EPAs establish a transnational meeting (also called Consultative Committee, like Caribbean Forum, CARIFORUM EPA) and EU-Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA has no reference to this. The Briefing note, makes three suggestions and ten specific recommendations.
  2. Second, Yentyl used the example of ACP YPN advocacy to show that the legal text does not mean implementation of the agreement, as ACP YPN continually reminds the EU and ACP states to utilise Article 26 of the Cotonou Agreement on Youth issues.
  3. Third, Yentyl explained that South Africa is the only ACP country to register three agricultural GIs in their SADC-EU EPA. This can be used as a case study on GIs in practise in ACP countries, and be a useful case study for the Cariforum countries who have committed to monitoring GIs under their EPA. (Forthcoming research)

Want to know more about EU-ACP trade relations? Get in touch with Yentyl: LinkedIn & @yentyl_w

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ACP YPN at ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

On the 13th-14th October 2016, ACP YPN attended the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the European Parliament, Brussels. In the words of Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN’s Advocacy and Policy Officer who attended the JPA for the first time, “the ACP-EU Standing Committee was very hectic but great. I learnt a lot in a short space of time and I look forward to coordinating ACP YPN’s flagship initiative, the JPA Youth Forum at the JPA’s 32nd session in Nairobi this December.” To find out more about the first Youth Forum at the 31st session, have a look here.

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Bora Kamwanya attended the Committee on Social Affairs and Environment. This Committee discussed and considered the draft report on the ‘Challenges for family farming and small-scale agriculture production in ACP countries’ after the exposé of the two co-rapporteurs, Uladi MUSSA from Malawi and Maria HEUBUCH from the European Parliament. The Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment adopted the draft motion contained in the report for a resolution. The vote on this resolution shall take place in Nairobi (Kenya) at the 32nd Session of the JPA, from 19-21 December 2016. The Committee also discussed the role of sport as enabler for education and poverty eradication, for which two rapporteurs were appointed to draw up a report on the subject.

On the second day, the Commission and the EEAS followed up on two resolutions adopted by the JPA. The first one on: How to improvise economic and social conditions in developing countries, including the contribution of family business, in order to prevent health disasters. And the second one on: Migration between ACP and EU Member States: causes, consequences and strategies for common management. Tthe Committee also held an exchange of views with the Commission on the topic of European Consensus for Development; and with UNESCO on the issue of Education in the ACP countries, which explained the “Education for all” movement. The Committee was then given a presentation on Female Genital Mutilation: how to eradicate it by Ms. Liuska Sanna, director of End FGM European Network and the Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo from Kenya. Another important issue that has been raised was the issue regarding Africa’s orphaned generation. UNAIDS presented statistics to end AIDs by 2030 and STOP AIDS NOW, represented by Ms. Anne Dankert explained how we could move towards an AIDS free generation.

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The JPA was created to bring together the elected representatives of the EU, the European Parliament and the elected representatives of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and signatories of the Cotonou Agreement in order to promote positive relations between the global North and South. There are three Standing Committees: (1) Committee on Political Affairs, (2) Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade, (3) Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment. Since the entry in force of the Treaty of the EU and EU enlargement, the work of the JPA has evolved; it now includes the promotion of human rights and democracy, and the common values of humanity. Since then, many joint commitments have been undertaken and can all be found via the website here.

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By Mr. Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Advocacy and Policy Officer

Get in touch with Bora: LinkedIn and @iKamwanya

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Women in media: An inclusive approach to SDG5 & EU conference 26/10/2016

In the run up to ‘Women in Media’ EU conference 2016, spearheaded by the Sofia Foundation, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder and President published this article giving a young multi-cultural women’s perspective to the subject. The article, published in PWN Global, suggests that an inclusive approach – including men, diversity and youth – are key to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal5 (SDG5), which is dedicated entirely to ‘achieve gender equality and girl’s and women’s empowerment’ by 2030. You can read the full article here. And you can join the conference – as ACP YPN member for FREE (see below) – on 26 October, see here.

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Yentyl Williams speaking on Localising the SDGs at European Development Days 2016

Yentyl provocatively asks, “Women in media – what’s the fuss?” and explains that “Surely in 2016, over a century after women were granted the right to vote, enough time has passed to create more equitable societies. Indeed, two decades ago, the UN Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) had already formally recognised the link between women and media, and this sowed the seeds of the UN principles on ‘gender mainstreaming’. However, the fact is that we still have not achieved a healthy balance of women and men in the media, neither in front nor behind the scenes.” By giving an insight into some of her personal experiences – her surprise at the under-representation of men celebrating International Women’s Day that she celebrated for the first time at 27 years of age and how twitter empowered her to express her expertise as an enabling technology – Yentyl shows how we can strategically achieve the SDGs by being more inclusive.

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Joint Yentyl and a host of other top women and men speakers at this year’s Women in Media EU conference, on 26 October, Flagey Building Place St. Croix, 9.00am – 17.30pm. Here is the programme.

*** If you are an ACP YPN member, you get EXCLUSIVE FREE ENTRY to the conference if you write to isabel.cortina@sofiafoundation.org and cc acpypn@gmail.com before Tuesday 18th October  ***

Find out more about the Sofia Foundation here.
Find out more about PWN Global here.

Get in touch with her: @yentyl_w or LinkedIn

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ACP YPN action for EU week of Action for Girls: ‘FGM in Europe – The state of Play’

On the occassion of the ‘European Week of Action for Girls 2016’, ACP YPN features this state of play on ‘FGM in Europe’.

Far from being an external or an African problem, it is estimated that around 500,000 women living in the EU have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) and close to 180,000 young women and girls are at risk from it every year. Different initiatives on the EU level try to tackle this problem, with the lack of efficient and effective enforcement being a major challenge.

As defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It causes serious physical and mental harm. This practice has been said to amount to a violation of the right to life (Article 2 ECHR) and to be cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3 ECHR).

Not an “African problem”

Far from being an external or an African problem like we too often hear, according to the European Parliament 2012 resolution it is estimated that around 500,000 women living in the EU have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) and close to 180,000 young women and girls are at risk from it every year. To address this gender-based violence and human rights violation, in 2013 the European Union in the form of the European Commission Communication on the Elimination of FGM established an EU action plan which put forward in equal footing the need for preventive measures and prosecution of such crime.

Photo credit: layalk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The EU Victims directive was seen as one major step to strengthen the position of those fighting against FGM. FGM stakeholders working with victims estimate that the directive, which is fully applicable since November 2015, has great potential in offering support to victims when fully and well implemented by the Member States. But unfortunately, many member states have up to now failed to transpose the directive into national law. Therefore, on February 22 – the European Day for Victims of Crime – the Commission opened infringement procedures against 16 Member States for non-communication of the Directive, which means that those members had yet to provide the Commission with information on the transposition of the directive into national law. Such infringement procedures may take years, thus hindering the Commission to enforce quick and comprehensive entry into force of EU law. The case of the Victims Directive thereby exemplifies the general problem of the lack of common application and absence of effective and efficient enforcement procedures on EU level. In the case of FGM, this means that victims in many EU member states probably are still not getting the support they would be entitled to according to the directive.

The Istanbul Convention – a helpful tool in the fight against FGM

On the other hand, another step into the right direction is the fact that the Commission’s Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality[1] has put FGM as a stand-alone key action to combat gender-based violence and protect and support victims. Continuing the work toward better data collection, awareness raising and support of Member States and civil society’s effort regarding violence against women, Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality in March 2016 furthermore proposed EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) for 2017. By having 2017 be the European year dedicated to combating violence against women, Jourova took yet another step in order to put the topic at the top of the EU list of priorities.

Regarding the fight against FGM, such a step would definitely be helpful: The Istanbul Convention requires States Parties to criminalise the subjecting or coercing of a woman or a girl to undergo FGM in addition to inciting a child to do the same (Article 38). Therefore, the EU ratification of the Convention would provide better data collection and accountability in regard to a proper monitoring and effective application by the Member States.

Complex issue, complex solutions

FGM is a complex issue so there is a need for concerted and multi-disciplinary actions with all relevant stakeholders as well as involvement of the communities in which FGM is in practice. In other words, as much as criminalisation is important, prevention and peer to peer education are essential to change behaviour. The EU funded project “European Knowledge Platform for Professionals Dealing with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)” could be a tool to make this happen. The web-based knowledge platform will serve as a European resource and education centre on FGM. It builds upon the successful results of the United to END FGM E-learning Course which enhances the capacity of professionals. Another promising approach is Men Speak Out, a project which puts men at the centre of the solution to end FGM – a great way to involve communities and avoid stigmatisation.

If you would like to keep up-to-date and learn more about FGM, sign up to the End FGM European Network newsletter and attend the conference on Gender-Related Vulnerabilities in the EU Asylum Procedures: Spotlight on FGM that will be held on 8 November in Brussels.

by Eke Celine Fabrequette

[1] It is true that the “Strategic Engagement” is only a staff working document (instead of an actual gender equality strategy, as it used to be the case before) and thus does not have any inter-institutional value, which is a downgrade and can be seen as a step back. However, in the case of FGM, the fact that the fight against the practice was put as a stand-alone key point nonetheless is a step forward, as this shows the recognition of the problem and the commitment of the Commission to resolve it.

By Ms. Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Project Manager on EU relations.  Have questions or remarks? Contact Celine: fabrequette@gmail.com or twitter

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ACP YPN at Women in Tech Africa week, Brussels

Ms. Dana Schurmans, ACP YPN Digital Inclusion expert took part in the first “Women in Tech Africa” week in Brussels. Dana spoke on the panel “Today me, tomorrow a woman with impact” and responded to the question, ‘What is the role of diaspora women issued from the ACP community in the advent of new technologies?’. Based on Dana’s research on digital inequalities and disadvantaged social groups, her intervention highlighted the importance of shared responsibility with regards to world-wide technological transformations, including for black diaspora women living in Europe.

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Dana explained that as a Belgo-Haitian citizen, woman and mother, she trusts that our digital future is bright, humanistic and inclusive. Her belief in empowerment through new technologies has been the driving force of her personal and professional path. She traced this back to the moment when, somewhat naively, she rushed into studying communication sciences at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) to become an investigative journalist covering ‘North-South’ issues. She explains that she felt it was her obligation to emphasize the need for critical reflections regarding the digitalisation of the world, and understand the underlying causes and consequences of digital inequalities between and within countries.

Dana believes in the potential of technologies as a tool for connecting people, exchanging ideas and inclusion. She strongly defended the thesis that if as society, we aim to achieve a truly inclusive digital society, we need to integrate the vision of social groups who are not traditionally included. Dana’s main message was that she strongly advocates for digital inclusion FOR disadvantages communities, and BY disadvantaged communities.

Ms. Dana Schurmans is researcher at the University Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve. She is also pursuing a joint doctoral thesis between UCL and VUB in communication science entitled ‘New narrative for digital inequalities from the perspective of disadvantaged youth communities’. Dana is Digital inclusion expert for ACP YPN.

Contact her by mail Dana.schurmansATgmail.com or follow her on TWITTER: @DanaSchurmans

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ACP YPN Response to EU Consultation on Youth Policy

 

On 30th September, ACP YPN responded to the EU consultation on the ‘Evaluation of Youth Policy Cooperation in the EU. The consultation focused on the subjects of (i) the EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018) and (ii) the EU Council Recommendation on the mobility of young volunteers in the EU.rights4

On the topic of EU youth policy cooperation, we stated that it is important to: 1) Redefine the scope of ‘Youth’ in order to effectively tackle the different challenges that impact youth i.e. the needs and struggles of a 16 years old are different to a 25 years old. 2) Involve youth organisations in consultations on trade agreements, since the primary objective of EU international trade agreements is to create and bring new opportunities and investments. This has a direct effect on Youth employment and inclusion. 3) Adopt a proactive approach to include diverse youth perspectives by integrating Europeans of diverse origins and the diaspora in consultation, structural dialogue and EU policy-making processes.

In relation to the Council recommendation, we made our own recommendation that it is important to broaden the scope of the EU cross-border volunteering service to include volunteering with third countries, in line with the Erasmus+ and Erasmus Mundus expansions. This would support and strengthen the EU youth policy strategy regarding the engagement with global challenges and building youth capacity and awareness.

The full consultation response can be found here: ACP YPN Contribution to EC Public Consultation on the Evaluation of the Youth policy cooperation in the EU

rights2The consultation was submitted by Ms. Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Project & Coordinator Manager on EU relation.  Have questions or remarks, can contact Celine: fabrequette@gmail.com or twitter

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ACP YPN empowers Togolese Diaspora Organisations

On 1st October ACP YPN was invited to share their experiences on being an active and united network with Togolese diaspora organisations in Brussels. H.E Ambassador Kokou Nayo M’Beou hosted the training sessions at the Embassy of the Republic of Togo. Mr. Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant Secretary General of the ACP for Trade and Sustainable Development gave a presentation on how to access EU-ACP funding. Ms. Yentyl Williams, Founder and President of ACP YPN gave a presentation on ‘Networking for Associations: Tools for Effectiveness‘. Mr. Charles Azilan, Chargé for Diaspora affairs moderated the session. Here is the link to the event on the website of the Togolese Embassy [FR].

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In her presentation, Yentyl explained what were the three keys for success based on her experience of founding and managing ACP YPN: (i) a project with defined mission and goals, as well as a strong legal basis; (ii) a team who can advance the activities to achieve the mission and goals and (iii) dedication, and not simply passion, to overcome all obstacles and challenges to strive for success. Yentyl also gave an overview of some of the useful social media tools – all free (!) – which can be beneficial for networking and communicating the work of the Association e.g. TwitterFacebook , WordPress and LinkedIn.

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Yentyl also commended the example of H.E Ambassador Kokou Nayo M’Beou for encouraging Togolese diaspora associations to be organised, united and equipped with the right tools to be effective. Indeed, this is a positive example of an ACP state fulfilling it’s obligations under Articles 4-7 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, concerning the ‘actors of the partnership’ in which civil society organisations are recognised as actors in EU-ACP relations.

Have you got some questions? Write to us: acpypn@gmail.com or via@acpYPN

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ACP YPN on EU Trust Fund with DG DevCo

On the 29th of September ACP YPN was invited to speak at the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to the EU on the topic of the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Yentyl Williams, President and Founder of ACP YPN spoke alongside Head of Unit and Manager of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, Mr. Hans Christian Stausboll. This exchange was part of the NRW-EU Brussels Happy Development Hour.

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Yentyl discussed (i) ACP YPN Actions leading up to Trust Fund: ACP YPN is signatory of Joint Declaration of African Diaspora organizations for the Valletta Summit on Migration; (ii) ACP YPN Action during the implementation of the Trust Fund: Response to the EU consultation on the future of EU ACP relations where ACP YPN commended the ‘flexibility’ of the trust fund. However, ACP YPN also identified several issues of concern, notably which undermine the EU principle of Policy Coherence for Development: (a) Early warning mechanism: EU member states are often torn between responding to conflict, whereby some member states that see conflict as an opportunity to sell arms; (b) Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs): the EU can’t give with one hand while taking with the other as Africa loses 50bn annually. In other words, Africa loses more in IFFs than it receives in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) combined. Moreover, private sector accounts for 65% of IFFs, therefore there is a clear need to re-evaluate the synergies between the support for the private sector and development principles; (c) Technical barriers to legal migration e.g. working visas, humanitarian visa issues in rhetoric and reality. The response states that the partnership failed to apply the appropriate solutions to crises: additionally, and specifically in relation to cooperation on EU-ACP youth issues, there needs more emphasis on circular migration and  the recognition of ACP diplomas by EU countries.

And, (iii) going forward on the EU Trust Fund for Africa: 1) Yentyl recommended that ACP YPN members who come from the affected regions should be invited as ‘observers’ to the Trust Fund’s Operational Committee to give targeted expert input; 2) Hold a Roundtable with ACP YPN members from the affected regions and policy officials (GIZ, DFID, UNIDO, etc.) to discuss the issues and bring clarity to a complex debate. 3) Publish Policy paper on Future EU ACP relations in Jan. 2017 and how the EU can achieve Triple A for its European Pillar of Social Rights vis-à-vis ACP-EU youth.

Have you got some questions? Write to us: acpypn@gmail.com or via@acpYPN

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