REFELA receives INTERNATIONAL IDEALKENT AWARD for the Woman-Friendly City Category at UNESCO

On 16 January 2020, REFELA received the IDEALKENT Award for the Woman-Friendly City Category, at UNESCO-Paris, for its project ”African Cities Campaign for Zero Tolerance to Violence against Women and Girls”.

This award gives women mayors and locally elected women in Africa recognition of the value of their continued mobilization to end violence against women and girls in Africa since the creation of their network in 2011, as well as recognition of the relevance of their initiative.

The President of REFELA, Mrs Dao Macoura Coulibaly thanked the Institute of Urban Studies, its Secretary General, its Director General and its partners (COJEP International, UNESCO, UCLG-MEWA, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities-Council of Europe) for honoring the network by awarding it this Prize. On the occasion of the forum “The Future of Local Governance”, the objectives will be to encourage urban actors concerned about participatory democracy in cities.

According to a report on the situation of violence against women and girls in Africa,prepared by REFELA, statistics reveal the many grievances, forms of violence and discrimination experienced by African women. This analytical report confirms that violence against women and girls is a real, persistent and widespread problem on the African continent. The Prize obtained at UNESCO rewards the perseverance of women mayors and locally elected women in Africa in wanting to tackle this problem and put an end to it, by establishing a collaborative framework with African cities through this Campaign#.

For this purpose, this campaign is based on a territorial approach to the fight against violence against women and girls and is organized around governance bodies, coordination and monitoring mechanisms, stages and priority lines of action to be implemented by REFELA-UCLG Africa and by African cities that have joined the campaign and on the basis of a toolbox designed to strengthen their capacities. Cities that adhere to this initiative will develop solutions, services, projects and actions with REFELA to protect women victims of violence and improve their well-being in the local territory, close to home and as close as possible to their daily lives.

The project aims to propose a strategy and appropriate protocols involving all parties concerned at the local level (police, health services, etc., including civil society), while providing the basic services needed to take care of victims. This Prize demonstrates the willingness of the Institute and its partners to contribute to the success of the “African Cities Campaign for Zero Tolerance of Violence against Women and Girls” project, which encourages African cities to take action against this scourge by joining forces with women mayors and local elected representatives for its implementation and follow-up.

The IdealKent Award offers REFELA great opportunities to inform and communicate that it is acting, through this Campaign#, for an imperative reduction of the horrors of violence against women and girls by 2030, in accordance with the Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, which cannot be achieved if women continue to suffer violence throughout their lives. Equally, this Prize contributes to strengthening the objectives of REFELA, aiming not only at giving an African scope to the campaign, but also an international one. Indeed, women mayors and locally elected representatives of Africa are advocating, before African and international bodies, for greater mobilization to combat and eventually eradicate all forms of violence against African women and girls and are working to make its Campaign# of African Cities an integral part of the Global Campaign to End Violence against Women and Girls, launched every year on 25 November.

“African cities need their women, so they must take the issue of violence against them more seriously, to make these cities safe, resilient and sustainable” (SDG 11). This should not be wishful thinking, but a reality of concrete actions, because things will not happen by themselves.

Women mayors and locally elected women in Africa hope that this Prize will help to pave the way for this awareness and that regional and local governments will act in support of the campaign project, which they will have to adhere to in order to allow the women of their territory to live in safety, as urged by the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, “Local Africa, transforming women’s lives”.

This is an opportunity to make appeals: (i) an appeal to the African States, for the integration of the actions of this Campaign of REFELA-UCLG Africa, in the national action plans to combat violence against women and girls and to grant cities and local authorities the necessary resources for its implementation, and (ii) an appeal to international organizations, including those of the United Nations and the EU, to take into account in this crucial phase, the implementation of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Committee recommends that the African Cities and Towns Campaign for Zero Tolerance of Violence against Women and Girls be given a clearer picture of the extent and complexity of the issue of violence against women and girls in African cities and local communities and that it be resolved to mobilize substantial funds and technical partnerships, including support for the implementation and monitoring-evaluation of the “African Cities and Towns Campaign for Zero Tolerance of Violence against Women and Girls”.

Elaborated by Dr Malika Ghefrane Giorgi
Special Adviser REFELA-UCLG Africa