The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an African Union strategic framework for pan-African socio-economic development, is both a vision and a policy framework for Africa in the twenty-first century. NEPAD is a radically new intervention, spearheaded by African leaders, to address critical challenges facing the continent: poverty, development and Africa's marginalisation internationally. NEPAD provides unique opportunities for African countries to take full control of their development agenda, to work more closely together, and to cooperate more effectively with international partners. Housed within the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, NEPAD consists of a number of programmes and projects in six theme areas. These themes are:
- Agriculture and Food Security.
- Climate Change and National Resource Management.
- Regional Integration and Infrastructure.
- Human Development.
- Economic and Corporate Governance.
- Cross-cutting Issues, including Gender, Capacity Development and ICT.
The Gender, Civil Society and Parliamentary Affairs Unit of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency was established to undertake and manage the following:
- To spearhead gender mainstreaming within all NEPAD Policies and programs;
- To ensure that civil society organizations (CSOs) are mobilized to effectively participate in the NEPAD implementation process;
- And, to maintains an increasingly interactive link with African Parliamentarians.
The overarching objective of the Gender unit is to ensure that gender equality is brought to the centre of development efforts in Africa, to identify challenges and constraints with regard to addressing gender issues in the implementation of development policies and strategies.
A key projects under the Gender Unit is The NEPAD Spanish Fund for African Women Empowerment which is financially supported by the Government of Spain through the Ministry of Foreign Cooperation (MAEC). The NEPAD Spanish Fund for African Women Empowerment aims to empower African women with the financial resources needed to unlock their economic potential, fight poverty, create wealth and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, economic growth and sustainable development. The Fund provides grants to support projects that are aimed at empowering African Women and promoting gender equality. The NEPAD Spanish Fund disburses 10 million Euros to various projects in Africa every year. Current grants range from 30,000 to 500,000 Euros.
So far the Fund has disbursed grants to 46 projects in 23 Countries. In monetary terms 6.3 million Euros has been disbursed to these projects.
The projects are focusing in the following areas:
- small and medium enterprise development,
- vocational skills training,
- democratic governance,
- eradication of gender based violence,
- elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education,
- promotion of human rights,
- promoting participation of women in environment conservation practices and management,
- sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention services, and
- promoting participation of women in decision making processes and bodies.