Gender Equality

“I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.”  

Michelle Obama, Becoming


Though the Judicial and Human Rights Unit is AU Watch’s main human rights department, the Gender Department has a special status of its own – because of the mass inequality and gross human rights violations women suffer in the continent. Who best are able to promote, protect and secure the economic, social, political rights of women than women themselves? The Directorate was established to accelerate progress on meeting women’s needs across Africa. So, our unit supports them, the AU, AU Member States in achieving regional standards of gender equality, and it works closely with civil society organizations and governments to design and implement policies, laws and services that benefit women.
We focuses on four priority areas: 1) Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems; 2) Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy; 3) All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence; 4) Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action.

We also work on positioning gender equality as fundamental to the AU Agenda 2063 goals and assist AU Member States to hold the AU and AU Member States system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality.

In other words, we could be seen as a backup unit for the main Gender Department, providing equal opportunities for both women and men, as well as aiming to integrate gender equality into policies and practices, both within the AU and its Members and the organization itself. With local partners and in collaboration with our Gender Department we develop and run projects across Africa to empower women, and build local capacities and expertise on gender issues. We co-operate with authorities in reviewing legislation and assists in building national mechanisms to ensure equality between women and men.

Who we are

A just world where the rights of all women are respected, valued and realised

To end inequality and all forms of violence against women and girls

• Women’s economic rights and control over resources
• Women’s equal influence in decision-making and ability to exercise political power

Meet our Independent Advisory Board and Consortium Steering Committee

Our Priorities

We support the Gender Department, activist groups across Africa working on these five priority areas. Click on the icons below to read more.

Our Theory of Change

We take a holistic approach to tackling gender inequalities. Our approach recognises that change is needed to support women and girls’ awareness, capacities and abilities, and to create opportunities and an enabling environment for empowerment.

We collaborate with partners from different sectors to influence legislation and policy that promotes gender equality, at the local and national level.Given that discriminatory social attitudes, beliefs and social norms can negatively affect women and girls’ empowerment, some of our work on women and girls seeks to understand, explore and influence change in attitudes, as well as foster opportunities for influencing social norms in the longer term.

We offer different opportunities for women and girls’ empowerment through a range of programs and use the following five intended outcomes to frame the work we do in this area:
• increased awareness and agency
• fairer access to resources and opportunities
• supportive legal and policy environment
• changes in attitudes, beliefs, practices and discriminatory social norms
• dialogue, collaboration and collective action




Change begins with self — ability to develop one’s mind, body and spirit. We offer opportunities to develop life skills that range from technical skills, learning how to read, write to understand basic financial transactions. The education process becomes the first step towards empowering these women as it prepares them with a wide skill set that can be employed for economic gains



The ultimate empowerment of women is to step up and take charge of their own futures. With the training that they employ to earn for themselves and their families, these women are able to become decision makers. The importance of being able to project their demands, get their say and decide, not just for themselves, but for their families, is key in making women an equal and productive member of their communities and society at large. Once they can stand up for what they believe in, only then can women become truly empowered.



And while training in, and learning of, new skills is important; it is not enough. Women come from a reality that has not enabled them to learn how to capitalize on their skills and talent. Developing that talent is essential in making them productive. Enabling women to actually step out and use their skills to create economic opportunities is the key to our Theory of Change. This process of enabling involves allowing women to understand the market and carve out niches within the market through the help of local sales agents. Through various market linkages and training activities, women are able to create market quality products and generate their income.