UCLG Africa’s Climate Task Force Cements Partnerships at Africa Climate Week

ACCRA, Ghana. 18 March marked the start of structured dialogue around Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at Africa Climate Week hosted by the Ghana Government. Delegates from all over the world gathered in Accra to, “discuss climate change actions and to strengthen stakeholders’ engagement in key sectors including energy, agriculture and human settlements. This very important event highlights Africa’s commitment to the implementation of NDCs in the lead up to the United Nations Summit for Climate in New York later in the year. The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLG Africa) Climate Task Force are playing a critical role during Africa Climate Week where UNFCCC asked the Task Force to co-ordinate and lead on Policy Block 2 promoting Cities and Local Action. In this context the structure is a perfect platform of exchange on the common challenges and opportunities faced by all African stakeholders. Building strong strategic partnerships is at the heart of The Climate Task Force, that also hosts the Covenant of Mayors for Sub Sahara Africa’s (CoM SSA) ‘Help Desk’ based in UCLG Africa’s Regional Office in Accra. With the recent appointment of the Mayor of Accra on to the Executive Board of the Global Covenant of Mayors, Africa Climate Week provides a great opportunity to cement Accra as a strategic climate hub and bring cities and local governments into the process of the Paris Agreement.

Day 2 – Tuesday, 19 March saw the launch of a new strategic partnership agreement between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability-Africa (ICLEI Africa), and United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), where they cemented their partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement at the ‘Pitch Hub’, during the United Nations Climate Week in Accra, Ghana. The Memorandum of Agreement strengthens an existing collaboration to accelerate the implementation of global and African development goals at subnational level in Africa. This new partnership is fundamental within the Framework of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force and brings together all interested parties to strengthen and empower subnational and local governments to play a key role in the climate change and sustainability agenda. UCLG Africa providing political advocacy and the voice of Local Africa which is backed by the technical support of ICLEI – Africa.

The collaboration between ICLEI Africa and UCLG Africa will come on the heels of a side event at the Climate Week, led by the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force, to facilitate an agreement between states and local authorities for the territorialization of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). On Thursday 21st March in Committee Room 1 a session, led by the Secretary General Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, will facilitate a roundtable discussion and a Davos style structured dialogue with Ministers and Mayors including the Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister For Local Government & Rural Development of GHANA; and Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra. Partners, CoM SSA and ICLEI Africa, will illustrate how African Mayors can properly understand their roles and responsibilities in taking action on climate change issues, as well as how to access technical support for the development of climate actions at a local level. Such robust partnerships within countries and internationally also provides a mechanism for stakeholders to share experiences and data on climate change issues and action in Africa. This session will be Followed by a Press Briefing on Cities and Local Action at 13.30 – 14.00 with the Secretary General, UCLG Africa Mr Elong-Mbassi, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Mayor of Accra, in Committee Room 1.

This bold step to deepen the existing partnership between UCLG Africa and ICLEI Africa, in further support of local action to implement the NDCs, strongly resonates with the strategy and mandate of the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa that provides much needed access to practical support for cities across the continent.

Media Contacts:

For further information, please contact:

Em Ekong:

United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa)

Tel: + 44 7801 701 675 or +233 50 933 3000

Email: eekong@uclga.org

Click here to download the Press Release

African Cities Development Fund : Call for Expressions of Interest

Context and justification of the Call for Expression of Interest

The world population is expected to reach 8.1 billion in 2025, 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100. It is Africa that will provide more than half of the world population growth, from 2.4 billion in 2050 to 4.2 billion in 2100. With an average annual population growth of 2.4%, the highest in the world, the African population increased twofold over in the last 30 years whereas the European population, for instance, increased by only 15% over the same period.

According to the experts, between 1950 and 2050, Africa’s urban population will increase by 1.3 billion inhabitants, that is more than the overall increase in the urban population in Europe, Latin America, South America, North America and Oceania joined together. The African continent is the fastest urbanizing region of the world. It is therefore the region of the world with the highest needs for settlement investments.

Africa currently has (3) cities of over 10 million inhabitants (Cairo: 17.7 million inhabitants, Lagos: 13.2 million inhabitants and Kinshasa: 11.58 million inhabitants); 4 cities with a population between 5 and 10 million; 49 cities with a population of 1 to 5 million; 53 cities whose population is between 500,000 and 1 million inhabitants; and 85 cities with a population of 300,000 to 500,000 inhabitants. These cities produce about 60% of the continent’s GDP, and host a middle class that should match China’s in 2020. The economic weight of this middle class is estimated currently at USD 700 billion, and is expected to reach USD 1,700 billion in 2030.

The urban population of Africa is characterized by its extreme youth. The median age of the population is 19 years. Compared to other regions, the weight of youngsters in the population of African cities is both a challenge and an opportunity: a challenge of having to train and integrate into the economic and social life thousands of young people whereas the job opportunities do not live up to the expectations. The opportunity of having a large and better-trained work force thanks to the progress of education, and which is ready to invest in tapping the multiple potentialities of the continent. On the express condition that the continent should be able to mobilize annually over the next 10 to 15 years the sum of USD 80 billion needed to set up the urban infrastructures and services needed to handle effectively the management and operation of the continent’s cities.

The experts estimate the current annual value added of African cities at approximately USD 51 billion, and their annual debt capacity at USD 8 billion. On the other hand, the annual turnover of the 200 largest banks operating on the continent is estimated at over USD 1,000 billion, and their net annual income at around USD 45 billion. In other words, cities in Africa are now operating in an environment characterized by expanding and increasingly mature financial markets.

The challenge of funding African urban infrastructures and services must therefore be addressed based on this new enabling environment. It is in order to review this possibility that in collaboration with FMDV, UCLG-A organized in Marrakech, Morocco, in December 2014, the conference REsolutions Africa on the topic “Funding African Cities: Agenda, Alliances and Solutions”. At the end of the meeting, the participants who were mainly mayors and local/ regional authorities of the continent recommended the establishment of a financial vehicle dedicated to the development of African cities, termed African Cities Development Fund, ACDF (see Marrakech Declaration in Appendix 1).

It is in pursuance of this recommendation that CGLUA Africa launched the initiative aimed at defining the establishment conditions and the operating procedures of the African Cities Development Fund. A workshop for the definition workshop of the format of this financial vehicle was held on 30 and 31 October 2017 in Rabat, Morocco. In addition to the Chief Financial Officers of major cities such as Port Louis and Pretoria, the other participants include institutions such as the West African Development Bank, BOAD (Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the West African Regional Stock Exchange (BRVM), Deposit and Management Fund, CDG (Caisse de Dépôts et de Gestion) of Morocco, Department of Local Governments of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Morocco, Moody’s, Bloomfield International, HSBC, Agence France Locale, Norges Kommunalbank, Municipal Capital Investment Fund, FEC (Fonds d’Equippement Communal) of Morocco, the Dakar Municipal Finance Project and the Municipal Capital Investment Fund of Cameroon, FEICOM (Fonds d’Equipement et d’Intervention Communal).

This workshop helped to define the contours of the proposed financial vehicle as well as the critical path of all the tasks to be carried out with a view to setting up the African Cities Development Fund, for both the technical component and the political component. This workshop also recalled the urgent need to set up the Club of the first cities interested in being members of ACDF.

  1. Presentation of the call for expression of interest

The purpose of this call for expression of interest (CEI) is to identify the cities as well as the local and regional governments in Africa wishing to be members of the Founding Club of the African Cities Development Fund (ACDF).

The African Cities Development Fund is designed as a cooperative fund of the major African cities (about twenty cities at the beginning) that would undertake to disburse a seed capital of Euros 100,000 Euros. This seed capital should be used to raise additional resources from the financial institutions or the financial markets.

The Fund is intended to finance the investments and services needed to cope with the rapid growth of the continent’s cities and catch up in this area, making the current operation of most African cities globally ineffective. Access requirements should also help to improve the financial performance and governance of local and regional governments; and promote economically and socially more cost-effective and efficient investment choices.

  1. Eligibility

Shall be eligible as founding members of ACDF:

–           The capital cities of African countries;

–           Rank 2 African cities

–           The intermediate level local and regional governments of the type of State Governments (in the case of countries with a federal system), Regions, Provinces, Counties, Departments or Circles, etc.

  1. Constitutive supporting documents of the application for the status of an ACDF Founding MEMBER

–           The deliberation passed by the council or the deliberative body, for the local or regional government to become a founding a member of ACDF

–           the undertaking of the authority responsible for the executive body of the local or regional government to settle the contribution of Euros 100,000 within three months following the vote of the deliberation of the council or the deliberative body

–           copy of the legal or regulatory act establishing the local or regional government as a legal entity enjoying financial autonomy

–           copy of the legal or regulatory act appointing the members of the deliberative body and the executive body of the local or regional government

–           copy of the last three administrative accounts approved by the competent authorities or by public or private auditors

–           copy of the regulatory act appointing the ACDF focal point within the local or regional government (names and contact details of the appointed person)

  1. Address for the forwarding of constitutive documents  

All the information mentioned under point 4 must be sent, as soon as possible, and no later than June 03, 2019 at 17:00 hours UT to :

The Secretary General of UCLG Africa

22, rue Esaadyine, Quartier Hassan, 10020, Rabat, Morocco

Email: Email: hbelghol@uclga.org  ; fyatta@uclga.org 

Fax: +212 5 37 26 00 60

Tel.: +212 5 37 26 00 62/ 63

Available in PDF 

Message of condolences and compassion of UCLG Africa to the President of Ethiopian Cities Association, (ECA)

It is with consternation and infinite sadness that we heard the news of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crash that took place on Sunday, March 10th, which has caused the loss of so many lives of different nationalities.

In these painful moments, I would like to express to you, on behalf of the entire local authorities community in Africa, and on my own behalf, our deepest condolences.

Please share with the families of all the victims and particularly the people of Ethiopia, my sympathy and that of the UCLG Africa governing bodies, on the occasion of this tragic ordeal.

Let’s all pray that Earth will be light for all the victims of the crash and that their souls will rest in peace.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi,
Secretary General of UCLG Africa

 

Message of condolences and compassion of UCLG Africa to The Chairman of the Council of Governors of Kenya

It is with consternation and infinite sadness that we heard the news of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crash that took place on Sunday, March 10th, which has caused the loss of so many victims of different nationalities.

In these painful moments, I would like to express to you our deepest condolences, on behalf of the entire local authorities community in Africa and on my own behalf.

Please share with the families of all the victims and particularly the people of Kenya, my sympathy and that of the UCLG Africa governing bodies on the occasion of this tragic ordeal.

Let’s all pray that Earth will be light for all the victims of the crash and that their souls will rest in peace.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi,
Secretary General of UCLG Africa

 

International Women’s Day Medal Awarded to Mrs Souad Bendimya from the Membership Department of UCLG Africa’s General Secretariat

On the celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, UCLG Africa has instituted an award, the International Women’s Day Medal. The award will be annually bestowed to a colleague in the General Secretariat or Regional Offices, chosen by her peers, for making a remarkable contribution to the promotion of gender equality and actions in favor of women’s leadership within local and subnational governments in Africa, as well as for the development and strengthening of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) in support of its initiatives and campaigns.

The recipient for 2019 is Mrs. Souad Bendimya, who was awarded this year’s Medal for International Women’s Day.   Mrs. Souad Bendimya works in the Membership Department at the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa in Rabat. Fondly known as “Hajja” by her colleagues, she is one of the most senior staff members, having worked for the Union of African Cities (UVA), which was one of the founding organizations of UCLG Africa.

This Medal is in recognition of the dedication of Mrs. Souad Bendimya to REFELA who has provided an interface between the UCLG Africa secretariat and the network’s leaders, both at the Pan-African level and at the national level. Mrs. Bendimya was also responsible for the creation of a position dedicated to REFELA within the General Secretariat and given her longevity in the organization she is also a source of knowledge and memories of all the changes in the life of the network.

The medal-awarding ceremony in the honor of Mrs. Bendimya took place in the presence of the entire secretariat staff on March 8, 2019 at the UCLG Africa headquarters in Rabat.

Statement: Local and Regional Governments mourn the loss in the tragic crash of flight ET 302

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and United Cities and Local Governments UCLG on behalf of all the organizations gathered in the Global Taskforce, would like to express our sorrow and sincere condolences to the families of all the victims of the crash of the flight ET 302. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our dear colleagues of the United Nations, delegations, and all members of the international community who were on the way to Nairobi.

On behalf of the constituency of local and regional governments, and as participants in the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, we want to share our solidarity with all families, colleagues and friends, and to let them know their absence will be felt.

Our thoughts are with you all,

 

 

Gino Van Begin ,                                                       Emilia Saiz
Secretary General,                                                   Secretary General,
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability        United Cities and Local Governments

Source: UCLG 

International Women’s Day 2019: Focus on the status of three REFELA campaigns (Part 1)

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” Every year, the celebration of March 08 is an important milestone for the Local Elected Women’s Network of Africa (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Standing Committee on gender equality, to highlight the actions and progress taken by these actors in local governance.

For International Women’s Day 2019, REFELA has seized the opportunity to provide an update on the deployment of its three main campaigns that are at the heart of its 2019-2021 Strategic Action Plan (SAP-REFELA). These are:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children

Ø The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

Ø The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment

 

 

 

“African cities without Street Children” in Rabat

The campaign, “African Cities without Street Children,” is an initiative driven by REFELA, supported by the Kingdom of Morocco’s National Observatory for the Rights of Children (ONDE) and UNICEF. The campaign aims to provide solutions for a shared African problem; that which is the vulnerability, accepted insecurity and invisibility of street children. It also aims to mobilize government officials and elected African territorial officials in the protection of children within a decentralized territorial approach.

This Pan-African Campaign was launched under the presidency of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem, at the Africities 8 Summit in Marrakech on November 24, 2018. Expressing his support for the campaign, which was delivered by the Princess, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, called on African leaders to make, “African cities truly worthy of their children.” As President of the ONDE, the Princess stressed that, “what is important is not the world we leave to our children, but rather the children we leave to this world.”

Since the launch of the campaign, a national pilot project, named “Initiative – Rabat without Street Children”, is being implemented under the guidance of ONDE and UCLG Africa, in partnership with the various departments of the Government of Morocco. During two meetings, initiated by ONDE (January 22 and 29), targeting institutional stakeholders, as well as elected officials and representatives of civil society, participants were presented with a work agenda for the creation and development of mapping a three-year action plan and an urban strategy for the protection and promotion of children in Rabat. The initiative, ”Rabat, a city without Street Children,” will lead to the implementation of guides, toolboxes and communication kits, for a city protecting its children, which will be presented at an event that will bring together the 60 African cities subscribing to the campaign.

Discover the 60 Cities subscribing to the campaign (Photo)

 

See articles on:

The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Reports on the 3 campaigns are available here

International Women’s Day 2019: Focus on the progress of 3 campaigns prepared and launched by REFELA  (Part 2)

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” Every year, the celebration of March 08 is an important milestone for the Local Elected Women’s Network of Africa (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Standing Committee on gender equality, to highlight the actions and progress taken by these actors in local governance.

For International Women’s Day 2019, REFELA has seized the opportunity to provide an update on the deployment of its three main campaigns that are at the heart of its 2019-2021 Strategic Action Plan (SAP-REFELA). These are:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children

Ø The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

Ø The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment

 

 

 

“African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls.” Cities say, “STOP IT.”

The call for expressions of interest, launched on January 31, 2019, targeting territorial communities wishing to voluntarily take part in the, “Campaign of African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls”, welcomed its first members. The cities and national associations of the following 9 countries have already made commitments: Rabat (Morocco), Saint-Louis (Senegal), Banjul (Gambia), Maradi (Niger), Paynesville (Liberia), Tunis (Tunisia), Bangui (Central African Republic), the National Association of Local Governments of Zambia, and the National Association of Local Authorities in Namibia.  The local authorities for these communities expressed their determination to play their part in eradicating this scourge, which is increasingly plaguing the African continent.

REFELA’s analytical report  shows some progress has been made across the continent, however it also highlights a resurgence of this phenomenon in Africa. According to WHO figures, more than 40% of women in West Africa are victims of violence, with this figure escalating to 65% in Central Africa, leading REFELA to adopt the slogan: “Cities and territories of Africa, it is up to you to act against violence against women and girls.”

In Niger, the Maradi region hosts the highest number of poor people (73.4%) and is also one of the regions with the highest rate of violence against women. “Of the surveyed Nigerian population as a whole, 53% report having experienced at least one act of violence in their lifetime. This proportion is 44% for men and 60% for women. The regions of Zinder and Maradi are the areas with the highest percentage of victims (93% and 83% respectively), (Extent and determinants of GBV in Niger – 2015),” says Ms. Habiba Saadou, the 3rd Vice-President of the Special Delegation from the Maradi region. This situation has motivated local governments to support the REFELA campaign. “Violence, in our area of ​​responsibility, cannot leave anyone indifferent. This violence is so widespread and has such serious consequences that our municipality is committed to reducing it, or, if possible, to putting an end to it,” said Ms. Saadou.  As part of this process, she has formulated two key expectations of the Campaign of African Cities’ Zero Tolerance Against Violence Against Women and Girls:

Ø    Support for the organization of mass campaigns on gender-based violence. These campaigns will include local decision-makers, religious leaders, traditional leaders, etc. The latter are guarantors of traditional authority and have a great influence on community life.

Ø    Support for the implementation of community programs aimed at collective decision-making, for a change in behavior that necessarily implies a change in social norms.

In Senegal, unlike the Maradi region, the city of Saint-Louis is the least affected by violence over the entire national territory, according to statistics in 2017, based on a study produced by the Gender and Society (Gestes) Laboratory at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis. The region of Diourbel is said to be the area where there would be the most cases of this violence, with a rate of 72%.  The least affected region is that of Saint-Louis, whose figures are around 45%, and for the region of Dakar, the rate is estimated to be around 52.5%. Statistics, hovering around 50%, were also given for the other regions of Senegal.

Ms. Penda Diouf, the municipal councilor representing the city of Saint-Louis, highlighted the emergence of a new type of violence via mobile phones. Saint-Louis has begun to initiate actions to deal with this violence. “Following action-oriented research on gender-sensitive budgeting of the municipality of Saint-Louis, it has been shown that the problems of gender-based violence are not supported by the budgets of programs and municipal plans,” indicated Ms. Diouf. At present, the Gender and Development Observatory of Saint-Louis (OGDS) is making a plea for the municipal budget to take charge of, “issues of violence in budgets, programs and plans, within the area of the municipality: schools, public places, households and workplaces, etc., through training, information, awareness, and support. Actions will be agreed with elected officials, civil society and technicians.”

Ms. Diouf is counting on the REFELA campaign to exchange, share, learn and experience projects from other African cities. Her commitment to the cause is unwavering. “I have the duty, the honor and the great pleasure to participate in the eradication of this scourge, which spoils the lives of women and young girls.

 

Operation zero rape, zero murder, zero violence against women and girls: Liberia

In Liberia, the mayor of Paynssville, Pam Belcher-Taylor, has made the fight to end violence against women and girls her main issue. Indeed, in a recent case, she was reminded of the tragic fate suffered by women who experience violence, in the case of a young lady from her own city.  “A little over two months ago I received a phone call on my way to work. The caller on the other end informed me of a corpse near my residence. I changed course and drove to the scene. Upon my arrival the stench of death permeated the air,” she recalled with horror. “With anticipation I walked towards an abandoned building where I saw from a distance, a figure lying on the ground partially clothed. I focused on the body trying to pretend that the odor was not nauseating and realized it was a woman, probably in her mid-forties, with furrowed lines on her face, eyes closed and facing the heavens. A week later, the investigation to identify this ‘lonely lady’ discovered she had been raped by five people. Since then, I have promised to fight relentlessly, to have ZERO Rape, ZERO Murder, ZERO Violence against WOMEN and GIRLS in PAYNESVILLE!!!!! (Sic).”

In the field, the municipality launched an awareness campaign entitled, “Say NO to violence against our women and girls.” The City Hall team has a door-to-door campaign to share this message with the public. “We are teaching our young girls what signs to look out for to protect themselves from predators and molesters. We don’t want our mothers, daughters and sisters to be another ‘lonely lady’ in an abandoned building,” she said.

In terms of her expectations for this continental campaign, Pam Belcher-Taylor emphasizes the importance of “eradicating this disease.” “Yes, violence against women and our girls is a disease!!!! We, as women leaders, must be courageous and steadfast in our fight. I expect to start the first registry through the Ministry of Gender and Sex Offenders in Paynesville City. I think that, thanks to this campaign, we will be able to give as many women and girls the strength to be heard and to speak out against violence.”

For Ms Belcher-Taylor, REFELA is a platform where dynamic women converge under the values of sisterhood and unity. “I have been a member of many organizations. REFELA has a diverse culture and is a torch for women and girls in Africa. I believe that with determination and instruments for change, REFELA can achieve our goals by 2030.

Situation in CAR

The city of Bangui, (Central African Republic), headed by Mayor Emile-Gros-Raymond Nakombo, is also engaged in the fight to end violence against women and girls. This phenomenon has been accentuated during the multiple crises that the country has experienced. “Most women, who are victims of violence in Central Africa, are those who are economically dependent on their husbands and those who are abandoned by their husbands who are unable to provide for themselves. 79% of the cases of violence against women are due to marital breakdown,” said the Bangui Listening Center which, in January 2012, welcomed 96 women who were victims of violence, 79% of whom left home, 10.4% who experienced physical violence (marital abuse, assault and battery, deprivation of material and financial resources), 4% who experienced ‘moral violence’ in the form of insults and social discrimination, and 3% who experienced sexual violence (including rape of minors, sexual slavery and forced marriages).

In response to this situation, the municipality of Bangui has set up Safety Committees in its 8 districts, in order to carry out local action in the fight against all recorded violence. The celebration of weddings has provided a platform for the President of the Special Delegation of the City of Bangui and the other civil status officers, to raise awareness.

The African Cities Zero Tolerance Campaign on Violence Against Women and Girls will focus on 3 main actions for the eradication of this scourge by 2030.  This will be high on the agenda in the development of policies and strategies of cities and local authorities in Africa to: (i) Raise awareness and develop effective means to combat the trivialization of acts of violence suffered by women and girls in their relationships, in the family, on the streets, in the workplace and in the community and institutions, in the name of stereotypical, socio-cultural practices; (ii) to make the fight against violence against women and girls a priority action in programing, delivery of services and the organization of cities and local communities for the facilitated mobility of women and girls, safe practices in the public space and for urgent, coordinated responses to violence by the various parties concerned; (iii) establish a system for assessing the tolerance levels of local cities and territories to violence against women and to note them, classify them and direct them towards concrete action, to create a climate of change and zero tolerance  to this scourge.

See articles on:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street children;

ØThe Campaign for African Cities for the Economic Empowerment of Women

Reports on the 3 campaigns are available here:

International Women’s Day 2019: Focus on the progress of 3 campaigns prepared and launched by REFELA (Part 3)

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” Every year, the celebration of March 08 is an important milestone for the Local Elected Women’s Network of Africa (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Standing Committee on gender equality, to highlight the actions and progress taken by these actors in local governance.

For International Women’s Day 2019, REFELA has seized the opportunity to provide an update on the deployment of its three main campaigns that are at the heart of its 2019-2021 Strategic Action Plan (SAP-REFELA). These are:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children

Ø The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

Ø The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment

 

 

Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Expectations of Women Entrepreneurs

 As part of its exploration work for the implementation of its campaign, “African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment,” REFELA has made an initial, participatory assessment amongst women entrepreneurs invited to the exhibition of the HAPPY FAIR UNI-VERS-ELLES event, organized by LAB ETNIK on March 02 and 03, 2019 in Salé, Morocco.

Aimed at promoting women’s entrepreneurship, the testimonials collected from the participants highlight some of the difficulties and obstacles that lead women to be content with and confined to the creation of micro and small enterprises, which limit their entrepreneurial potential. “As a woman, I was confronted with different obstacles, those that a male entrepreneur might not meet and specifically, those related to my situation as a woman and a woman entrepreneur, which are often due to a lack of confidence and non-recognition of women’s capabilities as an entrepreneur; postures encouraged by the socio-cultural context.”

A significant obstacle, when it comes to starting a business, is one of access to financial aid.  Concerning this point, women are victims of some prejudices that make them have no legitimacy and credibility with financial agencies (banking and other…), said one of the women. Other women entrepreneurs said, “Women are active and in favor of the economic growth of their city or municipality, but often remain invisible and receive little or no support from their city or town.”

To this end, women surveyed expressed their needs and expectations concerning the “African Cities that are favorable to Women’s Economic Empowerment Campaign,” being prepared and launched by REFELA, which consist of:

Ø  Conducting a census of women entrepreneurs at the city / municipality level, where they are active and conduct business; their personal and professional profile, the type of economic activity and economic impact on the city or municipality;

Ø    Broadening the scope of women’s entrepreneurial activity and raising them to a higher level of entrepreneurship;

Ø   Facilitating women’s access to public markets, fighting male hegemony and enabling women, through affirmative measures, to participate and to invest their entrepreneurial potential for the benefit of their city / municipality and to have the opportunity to grow their company;

Ø    Offering coaching and consulting on different themes, essentially, for the development of women’s entrepreneurial leadership;

Ø  Gaining support to create a network that can bring women together and support their work to increase the visibility of women entrepreneurs at the local level.

The call for applications for cities wishing to join the Campaign of African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment will be launched at the beginning of April 2019.

See articles on:

–  The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children;

–  The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence against Women and Girls

Reports on the 3 campaigns are available here:

 

International Women’s Day 2019: Message from Secretary General of UCLG Africa

On March 8 of each year, as is customary, the international community celebrates International Women’s Day. The theme chosen by the United Nations, to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019 is, “Think equal, Build smart, Innovate for change.”

This theme is an invitation to all to not be content with slogans and fashionable attitudes, but to think about actions that need to be taken, so that gender equality is concretely implemented beyond petitions of principle.
 
Thinking equal should be interpreted as the effort to understand the reality of gender inequality and to take into account this differentiated starting point when proposing appropriate solutions with a view to achieving equality on a socially conceivable and possible horizon. If this requires affirmative action policies that are women-friendly, one should not rule out such policies in the name of equal treatment. 

Furthermore, this is the attitude recommended by the Network of local elected women in Africa (REFELA) when it mobilizes for the strengthening of women’s leadership in the political and administrative governance of local authorities in Africa, and when it launches the campaign of African cities favorable to the economic emancipation of women; a campaign in which all African cities are invited to participate without delay. This is why REFELA supports the achievement of SDGs 4 and 5 more than ever, and urges all national, subnational and local governments, as well as all other stakeholders, to support the achievement of these goals.

It takes intelligence to overcome preconceived ideas about the ‘natural nature’ of gender inequalities, or their religious justification.  Intelligence implies taking into account social constraints, linked to the historical contexts in which gender equality must be advocated, but without ever sacrificing the imprescriptible principle of male-female equality.

Which human being can seriously think that his mother, sister or daughter are inferior beings and do not deserve to be treated like him? How can social stories influence our ways of thinking and acting, sometimes in contradiction to our deepest convictions? The need to resolutely question social practices whenever they conflict with our convictions and our principles takes courage, because it is difficult to question ideas that are socially accepted norms.
 
Certainly, for the triumph of equality between men and women, one must innovate, first, in the narrative of stories that illustrate the importance of gender equality for the progress of societies. Many members of UCLG Africa will remember that the matriarchal system formed the basis on which family was organized in African traditional societies, and in many respects, still exists in many African communities. 

UCLG Africa  is not afraid to strongly support innovations for greater equality between men and women when these are proposed, as is currently the case in Tunisia, because deep down such innovations reconcile African societies with their ancestral practices.

Happy Women’s Day
To all women, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi,
Secretary General of UCLG Africa

PDF available here