International Women’s Day 2022 : Speech by the President of REFELA

Dear sisters, today we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day when women and men who work for gender equality are honoured. Beyond the celebration, this day invites to a deep questioning on the role of women in society, to take stock of the effectiveness of their rights, and on the challenges that still need to be met to that gender equality brings opportunities now and for the future.

Dear sisters,

A lot of water has flowed under the bridges, many promises have been made to us without being kept, the time is over for begging for our rights, because true freedom and true independence are never acquired without demands. and without struggles.

This is why this day should be an opportunity for us, members of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), to ask ourselves the following questions: What actions have we taken during this year and intend to take in the years to come in favor of the emancipation of African women? What are we doing and what are we planning to do to eradicate the phenomenon of violence against women and girls in Africa? How do we concretely intervene to make the economic emancipation of women a reality in our societies? What are the struggles that we must carry out for more representation of women in decision-making bodies?

Since its creation in 2011, REFELA has put the issue of gender equality among the priorities of its actions, and has launched three campaigns in this regard: the campaign of African cities without children living on the streets and without ghost children; the campaign of African cities with zero tolerance against violence against women and girls; the campaign of African cities mobilized for the economic empowerment of women. More than a hundred African cities have joined these campaigns and are effectively implementing them. I congratulate them. I take advantage of this day to ask all African cities to join these campaigns to promote gender equality in their locality today in order to guarantee a sustainable future for all.

REFELA is challenged by the discrimination to which women continue to be subjected in access to work, access to land, access to education, access to health and to all facilities. that allow you to lead a dignified life. This discrimination is exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 and by the effects of climate change, of which women and girls are the first victims, especially in rural areas and the poor suburbs of our cities.

REFELA is also challenged by the particularly degrading treatment of migrant women and girls whose most basic rights are systematically violated. We call on African cities and their partners to adhere to the Charter of African Communities on Migration, which recommends recognizing the equal rights of migrants with those of local populations and rejects any discrimination against them, whatever their nature is.

REFELA has launched a charter for equality in local authorities in Africa. This charter was the subject of broad consultation among the members of REFELA and UCLG Africa; and is the result of fruitful cooperation with European communities and communities from other regions of the world grouped within United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). 

The adoption of this Charter next May 2022 during the General Assembly of UCLG Africa will kick off a new dynamic in favor of gender equality in Africa. REFELA is determined to play its full part in promoting this charter because it shares with others the conviction that equality today is the condition for the possibility of a fairer and more sustainable future for all.

On this March 8, 2022, I urge all men of good will to stand by our side to win the battle for equality.

I wish all women a good celebration and International Women’s Day.

God bless you,

Thank you for your kind attention.

The President ,
Macoura Dao Coulibaly 


The video is in french