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    AU urged to escalate anti-graft war to improve lives of women, girls

    APA-Nairobi (Kenya)

    African Union member states must take critical steps to eradicate corruption in Africa that perpetuates gender inequality and the disempowerment of women and girls on the continent, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) said on Monday.

    FEMNET urged the regional body of 55 countries to proactively champion the agenda to fight corruption in Africa, with the specific goal of bridging the gaps of gender inequality and increase service provision for Africa’s women and girls.

    The theme for the 30th ordinary session of the Africa Union Summit is: “Winning the fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

    The African Union estimates that 25 per cent of the GDP of African countries are lost to corruption every year. A high percentage of these resources are lost through illicit financial flows, with 65% of the outflows drawn from commercial activity by multinationals and 30% from criminal activities.

    The High-Level Panel Report on Illicit financial flows estimated that Africa is losing more than $50 billion every year, as governments and multinational companies engage in criminal activities aimed at avoiding tax payments, impeding development projects and denying poor people access to crucial services.

    “It is within this conundrum of resource waste and embezzlement that the quality of life for Africa’s women and girls is worsened, due to failure or inability by governments to provide services to sustain the needs of desperate populations,” FEMNET pointed out in a statement issued in Nairobi.

    FEMNET is urging the African Union to focus on filling the gaps created by corruption, by utilizing resources that could have been lost or that is being recovered in anti-corruption efforts, to replenish the gaps on provision of health care services, education and the establishment of infrastructure to improve the quality of life for its people.

    Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of early and forced marriage with Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and South Sudan leading.

    In Niger, high fertility rates are accompanied by marriage at a very young age. 60% of young girls are married by age 19 and this figure increases alongside a reduction in age in rural communities, where the majority are married at 12 or 13 years of age.

    This is according to a 2015 UN Department of Social Affairs Report on Youth Population Trends and sustainable Development.

    Every year, an estimated 74 million unintended pregnancies occur in developing regions, the great majority of which are among women using no contraception or a traditional method.


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