On 14 and 15 July 2021, a broad consultation workshop was held via the Zoom platform in the framework of the drafting of the “Local Authorities Charter for Gender Equality in Africa”.
Open to the public, the two day workshop aroused the interest of many.
A total of seventy three participants were registered, of which 42.5% were men and 57.5% were women, they came from about twenty African countries, and also Belgium, Spain, France, and Canada.
The Workshop aimed at providing a platform for dialogue, allowing local and regional government representatives, gender experts and civil societies organisations from Africa and Europe to exchange on the Charter in order to have a more inclusive final document, which will reflect the diversity of the African realities and therefore facilitate its application. This was also a first step towards ownership.
In accordance with the established programme, the two-day Workshop was held under the moderation of Mrs. Jacqueline MOUSTACHE-BELLE, Director of the Gender and Youth Department of UCLG Africa.
The opening speeches for the Workshop, were made by Mrs. Macoura DAO COULIBALY, President of REFELA, (Reseau des Femmes Elues Afrique), Mrs. Emilia SAIZ, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments – World and Mr. Jean Pierre ELONG MBASSI, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa.
Mrs. DAO COULIBALY, recalled the history of the process of elaboration of the Charter and noted its importance as a political instrument aiming at truly engaging Local Authorities on the path of equality between women and men. She affirmed REFELA’s conviction that this Charter will be the starting point of a new era for gender equality in Africa and expressed her confidence that the final version of the Charter will be adopted as planned during the 9th edition of the AFRICITES summit in Kisumu, Kenya, which will be held from 26 to 29 April 2022.
The Secretary General of UCLG World, Ms. Emilia SAIZ, noted the importance of the Charter and the involvement of Local Authorities in the battle for equality between women and men, especially that women
represent more than 50% of the world’s population, and yet remain the most exposed to violence and discrimination. She expressed the wish that the consultation be open to actors from other continents.
The Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr Jean Pierre ELONG MBASSI, recalling the history of the birth of REFELA in 2009. He emphasized on the importance of the Charter to guarantee the presence and participation of women at the local level to become concrete.
He praised the cooperation and collaboration with UCLG World and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), which allowed the idea of this Charter to emerge and become a reality. He also acknowledged that by involving the other branches of UCLG at global level, the dynamics aiming at addressing the issue of gender equality would be more effective and sustainable.
Finally, Mr MBASSI thanked the teams of UCLG, CEMR and UCLG Africa for their excellent work, the fruits of which are visible today. The Consultant, Ms Silvie SIYAM was also commended for her remarkable work. The consultant then presented the Charter to the participants following which they went into three groups work for deliberations of the draft.
Dr. Najat ZARROUK, Director of the African Academy of Local Authorities of UCLG Africa, headed the Arab speaking, Mr. Brygo GAUTIER, Director of the Department of Territorial Coaching of UCLG Africa was with the francophone and Mr. Charles PATSIKA, Adviser on Decentralisation and Local Governance of UCLG Africa was the moderator for the English speaking participants.
The day concluded with a plenary debriefing session of observations and suggestions from the groups.
On the second day the Consultant presented the newly amended draft which had taken into consideration the comments proposals and suggestions the participants had made the day before.
The concluding remarks was made by Mr Frédéric VALLIER, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) said he was impressed by the challenge undertaken since 2018 to make the
Charter for Equality for women in Africa a reality, whereby he referred to the similar work carried out in Europe more than 15 years ago. Mr Vallier congratulated the dynamic that, through REFELA, has allowed African women to be involved in the elaboration of this Charter, thus ensuring that the particularities of the African continent are taken into account. Finally, he reaffirmed the support that CEMR will continue to give to the elaboration of the Charter.
As for the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr MBASSI wished for a strong commitment from all in the implementation of the Charter which, once adopted, will be the subject of a call for voluntary adhesion in the direction of African Local Authorities. UCLG Africa, CEMR and UCLG will need to be ready to support local and regional governments in the implementation of the Charter, in particular through decentralised cooperation with certain European local authorities.
It was on this note that the moderator, Mrs. MOUSTACHE-BELLE, ended the Workshop by thanking the secretary generals of UCLG Africa, UCLG World and CEMR, the team of focal points, the facilitators of the working groups, the consultant and especially the participants.