The Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) organized a parallel session within the framework of the First World Forum of Intermediary Cities held from 05 to 07 July in Chefchaouen, Morocco .
The session, which took place on July 7, addressed the topic, Gender and Intermediary Cities. The objective was to ascertain the role women could play to strengthen the development of intermediary cities (population between 500 thousand and 1 million inhabitants).
Moderated by Ms Malika Ghefrane Giorgi, REFELA Special Advisor, UCLG Africa, the session provided the opportunity for panelists to highlight the importance of recruiting more women in local politics in this category of cities. “Intermediary cities are ideal spaces for the emergence of female leadership,” pointed out Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.
For Mr. Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen and President of the World Forum of Intermediary Cities, “The presence of women is of great importance in the intermediary cities. In Chefchaouen, we have two women vice-presidents in the municipal council. We have started to integrate the issue of gender. We will move to more concrete actions in the future to strengthen the participation of women in politics.”
Morocco was highlighted as a good example in terms of an increase in the representation of locally elected women. In 2003, the country had less than 1% of locally elected women. In 2009, thanks to new legislation, the women’s bar of 12.5% was reached. Since the last municipal elections in 2015, Morocco has 21.6% of Moroccan women as elected officials. A situation that, nevertheless, proves there is still some way to go to attain parity.
The Secretary General of UCLG, Ms Emilia Saiz, emphasized the need for the integration of a gender approach. “Why do we want more women in decision-making bodies? It’s because we represent half of the world. It’s enough of a reason! The work for parity will have a place in the Agenda of intermediary cities, which will be adopted during this forum. We need to take action with a comprehensive agenda of intermediary cities with a gender approach.”
In Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, there is an encouraging involvement of women in the district local governments. “Of the eight districts in Bangui, four are run by women,” said Ms. Leontine Weya, First Vice President of Bangui City Council.
Ms. Saloua Berdai, First Vice-President of Chefchaouen’s Municipal Council, laid emphasis on a strong involvement of women in the local government in actions relating to resilience, energy and climate change.
In conclusion, the session recommended the consolidation of gains in terms of representation of women in decision-making positions within the intermediary cities. “Women must encourage young people to get involved in local politics. The REFELA national chapters should promote meetings with the political parties so that the latter propose zebra lists (50% of women and 50% of men) for the elections,” stated Mr. Mbassi.
As concrete actions, REFELA’s action plan focuses on three campaigns, which will be presented at the Africities 8 Summit, from 20 to 24 November 2018 in Marrakesh:
– Campaign “African cities without street children;”
– Campaign “Encouragement of leadership and economic empowerment of Women in African Cities.”