Demanding Accountability on ALL Human Rights - Accountability International


Update from Our ED

Ricki Tshepo Kgositau Kanza

October seems to be a very significant month for us at Accountability International.

We started the month on the 2nd with the International Day of Non-Violence, on the 10th we had World Mental Health Day (wellness is a core issue at our organisation), a day later the International Day of the Girl Child (11th October), followed by International Day of Rural Women (15th) and then the world commemorated October 17th as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and then World Statistics Day (an issue which AI is an expert on, of course!) and on 24th October we recognized World Development Information Day. All of these issues are matters that we at Accountability International work on as part of the broader #accountability movement.

But let me start by highlighting the issue of poverty: It is important to acknowledge poverty as more than just the lack of money or resources to provide for sustainable livelihoods. The various manifestations of poverty include hunger and malnutrition, hampered educational access and other social services, socio-economical exclusion and discrimination, as well as compromised participation in decision-making.

Agenda 2063 sets out an ambitious road map for the attainment of this endeavour with Goal 1 to end poverty that intersects with Goal 2 to attain zero hunger. What is clear is that poverty and hunger cannot be eradicated when the lives, human rights and wellbeing of all people is not safeguarded, more especially the marginalized. For this to be guaranteed, the expectation is to see reduced inequities, good jobs and inclusive economic growth, with all humans living in safe communities where justice in its fullest sense is accessible to all.

The current times of COVID-19 are a true litmus test on the goal to eradicate poverty. Accountability International (AI)’s COVID-19 Scorecard for Africa brings to the fore evidence on the impact of emergency protocols that have been adopted across the continent on citizens. It is important to note that where national authorities overstep the mark in their application of emergency responses to COVID-19, or where civil servants exceed their powers, the people targeted as a result are often marginalized and excluded populations: women and girls, LGBTIQ persons, people who use drugs, sex workers, people in prisons and other detention centres, migrants, refugees and displaced people, the elderly, the mentally ill, people living with disabilities, indigenous people, civic leaders, journalists, and perceived political opponents. Where economical reliefs have been provided for businesses and industries, many of these marginalized communities have not benefited, which further pushes these communities into the clutches of poverty during such a global health crisis.

Our flagship Challenging Criminalisation Globally (CCG project), shows the detriments of prevailing laws policing and regulating people’s bodily autonomy, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, choices and needs as drivers of socio-economic exclusion and discrimination for criminalized communities. Without challenging, repealing and transforming such laws and policies, many marginalized communities continue to live on the periphery of society without the necessary resources to forge sustainable, meaningful and safe livelihoods. Our CCG work continues to advocate for governments to provide safe living and working spaces for all people indiscriminately to afford an income for themselves, their families and communities if we are to end poverty and hunger, and reach our 2030 targets.

The freedom of all persons to voice their opinions, concerns and issues is critical to ensuring their full participation in the economy and all decision making pertaining their lives. This is more important with regards to all diverse young persons, particularly in the context of Africa where close to 60% of its population is said to be under the age of 25. AI’s State of the African Youth Report of 2017 showed road crashes to be the second biggest killer of youth on the continent, while global statistics are showing a spike in new HIV and sexual infections amongst adolescents and youth, and growing unemployment rates amongst youth. This is a ticking time bomb, in need of urgent and decisive action. It is for this reason that AI is working with young persons under our African Youth SRHR Scorecard project, to equip them with accountability literacy and tools to engage in robust monitoring of youth related commitments to ensure implementation of youth centred and focused policies and services. 

It gives me pride to lead the team of AI that has been hard at work during these trying times of COVID-19, albeit remotely. We have received some additions to the team with our newly appointed Programmes Manager, Keikantse Phele, who is a human rights lawyer and inclusive feminist of note and our new intern Joshua Tshego Sehoole, a Master’s student with the University of Pretoria’s prestigious Centre for Human Rights focused on Africa and democratization. We look forward to working with them as we work to advance inclusive developmental agenda setting that centres marginalized communities at its core to end poverty and hunger the world over.