Developmental regionalism strategies and gender in Africa A study of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

Harriet Omokiniovo Efanodor-Oheten


Over the last decades, Africa has been subjected to several development plans and declarations of intent relating to regional integration and seeking to realise development in the continent. To underpin the development question, in 1980, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) put in place the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and the Final Act of Lagos (FAL) in 1981 as development strategies to restructure the African economy on a sound footing based on self-reliance and self-sustaining development. The LPA (1980) and FAL (1981) were springboards from which the idea of the African Economic Community was born (Clark, 1997). These strategic visions articulated Africa’s development trajectory and provided a practical plan of action to foster the continent’s development (AU, 2015, p. 27). In spite of these strategies, equitable and sustainable development which focusses on gender issues have not been properly addressed. These strategies ignore the social content and the impact of economic policies and their implication for social and gender relations. It is pertinent to note that gender is constitutive of other social relations. The development strategies appear to be gender-neutral, but on closer examination they turn out to be universalising men’s experience and knowledge (Pettman, 2006).

In order to address the above, in 2001 African leaders came up with a social-economic development framework known as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) directed towards the achievement of sustainable development in Africa. The key dimensions of NEPAD are accountability and integration of cross-cutting issues of gender. The NEPAD is a social-economic, long-term policy framework intended to place Africa on a path of sustainable growth and development. The aim here is to x-ray the extent to which NEPAD as a regional development strategy specifically addresses the central issues of gender in Africa with a focus on the female gender.

Therefore, the first section of the chapter is a historical discourse on developmental regionalism strategies in Africa. The following section explores NEPAD’s gender insensitivity as well as how a part of the underlying framework and objectives actually undermine a gender equality agenda in the face of globalisation.

The last section proposed the framework for gender mainstreaming that will ensure women’s economic empowerment and gender equality.

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