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Statement by President James Michel, 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 14-15, 2015

Statement by President James Michel, 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 14-15, 2015 (Forimmediaterelease.net) Theme For the Summit: Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa Agenda 2063

Chairperson, Excellencies,

My delegation comes here with a simple message. Women will change Africa. Women will make Africa better.

We cannot have economic development, or economic integration without the active participation of women.

But to do so, we must remove the barriers that stand in their way. It is time we free ourselves from the internal dynamics that are holding us back. Africa cannot stand still; we have to move forward. Indeed, we cannot ignore our culture. But we need to acknowledge that as our societies progress and evolve, so too, does our culture.

We must put an end to child marriage, and other cultural practices that are detrimental to their development and deny them access to the tools they need. Education and healthcare are prerequisites.

We know it because Seychellois women have changed Seychelles.

In the spirit of sharing experiences and offering contributions, I am proud to say that in Seychelles, the women empowerment story is a success story. Seychelles has built itself on people-centred development and gender equality is a cornerstone of this philosophy. We cannot have people-centred development if half of the people are discriminated against in any form.

With access to education, and maternal healthcare, women have transformed the economic landscape in Seychelles. Beyond the political spheres, where we have strong female representation in our national assembly, we have over 50% of female students in our university, we have women leading the workforce in management positions, and growing in numbers in non-traditional sectors such as our maritime and defence forces, as well as IT and computer sciences, and, when given access to affordable loans, women are demonstrating their entrepreneurship with new and varied enterprises. They are an important pillar of our economy.

Without women, we are trying to build a better Africa with one hand tied behind our back.

What would our economic growth be if we put both hands to work?

Seychelles would like to call upon fellow member state with a simple challenge – Lets find out!

ON AFRICAN UNION AGENDA 2063

Seychelles welcomes the First Ten-Year Plan for Agenda 2063.

We commend the African Union for embracing the key priorities of the African Island States as well the increased participation of women as key areas of the transformative components of the Agenda 2063.
These key areas include a strong focus on the development of the Blue Economy within Africa, as an opportunity for all African States; the fight against climate change; the growth and development of tourism; and Maritime connectivity sectors as drivers for change and growth. These are all sectors in which women can have an important role to play.

But, if we are going to create these opportunities and empower our women and people we need financing.

Beyond the obvious benefits, the Blue Economy can also open new avenues for innovative financing, particularly for financing marine projects.

Seychelles has made headway in this new chapter, whereby our landmark Debt for Adaptation Swap, a proposal for a partial exchange of our debt in return for financing marine action to mitigate against climate change, has been approved by the Paris Club. This has freed up U$ 30 M of our debt to be used to protect our Marine Space – our Blue Economy.

This landmark financing innovation can provide other African Island States and other African countries with a tested model of sustainable financing for development driven initiatives.

I would therefore like to propose the inclusion of this mechanism as part of a financing model in the First Ten – Year Implementation Plan. We stand ready to work with the African Union on this matter.

Therefore, Chairperson, my delegation, welcomes the report of the Ministerial Retreat on the 10 year implementation plan and we hope that the role of women, in all aspirations and goals, can be a commitment we all make here today.

PEACE AND SECURITY

Mr Chairperson, Peace and Security are pillars of world governance so central to the development and inclusive growth of Africa. In this context, as the Chair of the EASF, Seychelles will play a lead role in helping to bring about peace and stability in the Eastern African Region.

As a country having a shared interest in peace and security in our region, Seychelles should like to reiterate its commitment to continue enhancing regional cooperation in responding to security threats and ensuring the safety of our seas.

Maritime Security is our common good and an element of our collective human security.

We therefore welcome the focus on the setting up of a Regional Maritime Security Strategy consistent with Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050.

I thank you

MEDIA CONTACT: seychellesupdatednews@googlemail.com

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