International Women’s Day 2022: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow



International Women’s Day 2022:

Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

As we join millions around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day and recognise the many achievements and contributions women have made over the years, we are also cognisant of the many challenges that still exist. As African women and gender non-binary people, we are all too aware that the 2022 International Women’s Day takes place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which over the last two years has deepened a multi-layered set of crises in Africa. The most immediate being a health crisis that has exposed the inadequacy of current investments in the health sector, inequality of access to health services by citizens. Spill over crises beyond the economic include, regression in social gains from the past decade on gender equality, access to social services, and opportunities for young people. The current multi-layered crises threaten all these gains with the 2021 African Economic Outlook stating “Women and female-headed households could represent a large proportion of the newly poor due to COVID-19[1].”


“Women and female-based households could represent a large proportion of the newly poor due to COVID-19.”


At the same time Africa’s efforts to consolidate domestic resource mobilisation are being severely undermined by the growing debt burden. Many African countries are stuck in the debt trap and this has a direct impact on the continent’s young people more generally, and girls more specifically.  Debt negatively affects women as it affects public spending which is critical to reducing income inequality through social protection, and other social welfare investments that lessen the burden on the poorest who happen to be women, youth, and gender non binary people.  A study of 13 developing countries worldwide found that 69% of inequality reduction was because of public services which are great equalisers, particularly for women and girls. Unfortunately, the average spending levels for health and education are well below those estimated as needed to achieve the SDGs (15% and 20 %, respectively). On average, low-income countries the majority of which are in Africa, spend 6% of their budgets on social protection, 8% on health, and 16% on education. In many African countries, expenditure on health and education is surpassed by debt in terms of GDP. To build sustainable societies beyond the Covid-19 pandemic substantial increases in spending on health, education, and social protection are needed.


These burdens are compounded by the raging conflicts throughout the continent, including the Sahel, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and other trouble spots where war has been waged on women’s bodies by both state and non-state actors without recourse to justice.


We acknowledge the urgency of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. We celebrate as OSF Africa, our commitment to it in our new strategy, which centralises women’s rights and gender justice in all of its pillars of work. 50% of OSF Africa’s grant making budget is committed to support pan African feminist movements and youth organising on the continent. We look forward to joining forces with our friends and partners to make the call for gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow a reality.


[1] See page 23