African Union Commission

The African Union Commission (the “Commission” or “AUC”) serves as the secretariat for the AU. It consists of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, eight commissioners and support staff. The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson are elected by the AU Assembly, serving four-year renewable terms. Commissioners are elected by the Executive Council and also serve four-year terms, once renewable.

In general, the Commission is responsible for:

    • Representing the AU and defend its interests under the guidance of and as mandated by the Assembly and Executive Council
    • Initiating proposals to be submitted to the AU’s organs as well as implement decisions taken by them
    • Acting as the custodian of the AU Constitutive Act and OAU/AU legal instruments
    • Providing operational support for all AU organs
    • Assisting member states in implementing the AU’s programmes
    • Working out AU draft common positions and coordinate member states’ actions in international negotiations
    • Managing the AU budget and resources
    • Elaborating, promoting, coordinating and harmonising the AU’s programmes and policies with those of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)
    • Ensuring gender mainstreaming in all AU programmes and activities
    • Taking action as delegated by the AU Assembly and Executive Council

iconLockWant more?   Visit the AU’s website for more information on the Commission’s work


African Union Commission
PO Box 3243
Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) W21K19
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel. +251-115-51-77-00, Ext. 2804 | Direct. +251-115-18-28-04 |

How does it help tackle violence against women?

As part of its work, the Commission may take action to promote and support the work of the AU. Given the inclusion of gender equality into the AU’s Constitutive Act (Article 4(L)), adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (“Maputo Protocol”) and other women’s rights instruments adopted by member states, the Commission’s work has necessarily involved tackling violence against women.  Examples of its work to this effect includes:

Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD)

The Women and Gender Development Directorate (WGDD) was created in 2000 under the Office of the Chairperson of the Commission. It has the overall mandate of ensuring that capacity is built for all AU Organs, RECs and Member States to understand gender, develop skills for achieving gender mainstreaming targets and practices in all policy and programme processes and actions by 2020, in order to close the existing gender gaps and deliver the promise of equality for all African men, women, boys and girls.



 Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security

The Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security was appointed by the AUC Chairperson on 30 January 2013. The individual who holds this position is responsible for:

  • Supporting women and women’s groups in conflict prevention and peace building
  • Developing a continental results framework for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of women, peace and security commitments at national, regional, and continental levels
  • Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the implementation of the framework
  • Promoting women’s leadership and initiatives and showcase best practices for replication
  • Strengthening the efforts of the African Union on Women, Peace and Security for better impact
  • Building partnerships with various stakeholders including developmental agencies, civil society organisations, women experts and groups and peace and security partners

Want more? iconLockVisit the Special Envoy’s page for her latest publications and activities



African Union Gender Policy

The main purpose of the Gender Policy is to establish a clear vision and make commitments to guide the process of gender mainstreaming and women empowerment to influence policies, procedures and practices which will accelerate the achievement of gender equality, gender justice, non discrimination and fundamental human rights in Africa.”

Under the direction of the AUC Chairperson, the African Union Gender Policy (the “Gender Policy”) was drafted during a three-year process and adopted by the AU Assembly in 2009 – providing a policy basis for gender equality and women’s rights throughout the AU. It focuses on the duty of states to implement legislation and policies to address gender-based discrimination and inequality, including the eradication of violence against women. In particular, five goals frame the Gender Policy:

  1. Accelerate gender mainstreaming in institutional, strategic and political cadres, and programmes and plans at decision–making level;
  2. Establish an institutional framework for implementing the diverse commitments related to gender equality and empowerment of women;
  3. Develop guidelines and enforcement of standards favouring the creation of a gender responsive environment with a view to ensure empowerment of women;
  4. Establish standards and criteria required to monitor, evaluate and ensure the follow up of progress realised in mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment in a regular manner; and
  5. Promote equitable access for both women and men to resources, knowledge, information and services including basic needs; and facilitate the implementation of corrective measures to address existing inequalities with regard to access to and control over resources as well as other empowerment opportunities.

From these five goals, states are expected to promote eight areas of policy commitment:

  1.       Creating an enabling and stable political environment
  2.       Legislation and legal protection actions against discrimination, for ensuring gender equality
  3.       Mobilising stakeholders for implementing the AU Gender Policy
  4.       Rationalisation and harmonisation of Regional Economic Communities’ gender policies and programmes
  5.       Mobilising resources for implementing the AU Gender Policy
  6.       Capacity building for gender mainstreaming
  7.       Implement gender mainstreaming in all sectors
  8.       Maintaining peace, security, settlement of conflicts, reconstruction and promote the effective participation of women in peacekeeping and security including efforts aimed at reconciliation in post-conflict reconstruction and development

Department of Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (CIDO)

The Department of Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (CIDO) is a division of the AUC that is responsible for mainstreaming the participation of non-state actors in the activities of the AU. CIDO has two divisions, the Civil Society Division and the Diaspora Division. It also has a unit that serves as the Secretariat of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).

Civil society organisations interested in participating in the AU Assembly’s ordinary sessions (Summits) are required to apply for observer status through CIDO. For more information, CSOs are encouraged to contact CIDO for more information on the application process.


Mr. Ahmed El-Basheer Ag. Director
Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO)
Tel: +251‐11 518 21 08 | +251 11 51 77 00 | Fax: +251 11 551 78 44 | cido@africa‐



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