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Webinar REFELA: review and prospects in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic

On 3 June 2020, the members of the Pan-African Council of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) hosted a webinar for their 3rd statutory meeting and their 1st meeting of the year with the theme: “REFELA: Assessment and perspectives in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic.” The webinar was chaired by Mrs. Dao Macoura Coulibaly, Mayor of the commune of Foumbolo (Ivory Coast) and President of REFELA, in the presence of the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi.  More than 68 people attended, made up of women, mayors and local elected women, members of REFELA and also members from the national chapters of REFELA.

In her opening speech, the President of REFELA said that the main objectives of the webinar were to : (i) take stock of achievements; (ii) examine the prospects in the light of the current situation marked by the Covid 19 health crisis; (iii) and define the most appropriate trajectories to pursue for the achievement of the objectives that the Network had set in the framework of its three-year action plan 2019-2021, around the five points on the webinar’s agenda.

The debate opened on three points relating to the impact of Covid-19 on the implementation of the 3 campaigns by African cities; on the process of drafting the Charter of Local and Regional Authorities for Gender Equality in Africa and on the implementation of the national chapters (REFELA-Countries), as strategic and priority actions, inscribed in the agenda of REFELA 2019-2021. These 3 points were introduced successively by Mrs. Mariam Iddrisu, Mayor of Sagnarigu and President of REFELA Ghana, Mrs. Ratsimbazafi Sahondramalala Esther, Mayor of the Commune of Fianarantsoa in Madagascar, REFELA Vice-President for East Africa, and Dr. Malika Ghefrane Giorgi, the Network’s Special Advisor. Elements of the discussion were synthesized by Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of ALGA.

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Women’s leadership will be critical for rethinking the future in the post-COVID-19 era

Barcelona, Spain and Nairobi Kenya, 08 May 2020
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting women and men differently. The twelfth thematic live learning experience provided an opportunity for local and regional women leaders from across the world to outline their key strategies, concerns and experiences, recalling their critical role on the frontlines of the crisis.

The session highlighted some key topics identified by women leaders the world over. The increase in gender violence in situations of confinement, the role of women in global leadership, the need for a new governance system that considers women as critical actors in the rebuilding phase, and the state of the world in the COVID-19 aftermath were among the critical issues explored by participants.

UCLG Women leaders had agreed on a call to action called Women’s Leadership for the PostCOVID19 Era and the main components. Calling for a sustainable and gender-equal future were presented during the session.

The session was introduced by Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, who highlighted the current situation for women in the world. Regnér mentioned, in particular, that even though “women are sought after, they are still paid less than men”. She explained the situation was particularly bad in health-care work, especially in relation to the care of older persons, for which many women are often not paid at all.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director urged all spheres of government and stakeholders to put women and girls at the centre of efforts in the recovery. She argued that women and girls are more at risk in the pandemic, in particular as they will be most affected by loss of jobs, and called for local and regional leaders to take measures to curb this.

“Women need to be at the centre of global decision-making and have a seat at the table. We need to pay special focus to older persons and women and girls living with disability, who can easily be forgotten in the recovery.”

Thembisile Nkadimeng, Mayor of Polokwane and UCLG Co-President, argued for the importance of women’s self-organization in order to better rebuild in the aftermath.  She called for national governments to act on gendered inequalities and enhance well-being with universal healthcare and social protection. She also called for the development of an equality framework in urban planning and legislation to ensure full inclusion of women and girls in the social fabric of cities and regions.
“As identified in our UCLG Decalogue for the Post COVID-19 era, we know well that the sacrifices that we are asking from this and future generations need to lead to more just and equality driven societies where we take care of each other.”

The high-level discussion was opened by Ada ColauMayor of Barcelona, and UCLG Special Envoy to the United Nations, who highlighted how the crisis has made it all the more important to have decent public healthcare systems. She, explained that, in the aftermath, it will be necessary to develop a new economy that puts people in the centre, that does not speculate with basic needs, adopts premises of the feminist, pacifist, and ecologist movements, and empowers local and regional governments to provide solutions to communities.

Emilia SaizUCLG Secretary General, moderated the discussions arguing that, looking into the future, empowering women and girls is critical and argued that a different type of partnership between spheres of government and the civil society, in particular women’s groups, is needed for the aftermath of the crisis. Emilia Saiz also commended the clear call of the local women leaders to ensure that gender equality is at the heart of the recovery plans. Furthermore it is “critical to commit to the global agendas in the recovery, we cannot allow priorities to shift and consider the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda as accessories,” she stated.

Claudia López, Mayor of Bogotá, argued that the recovery phase needs to respond to the deep questions that were being asked before the outbreak. The values of solidarity and empathy are needed, she argued, to respond to this pandemic and those that will come. Pilar Díaz, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat, also highlighted the value of care work, and of those people – the great majority of them women- who carry out this work. Putting care in the centre of policies is integral, she argued, for a people-centred recovery.

Gender violence was a common theme in the conversation, with Souad AbderrahimMayor of Tunis highlighting how her city works in real time to protect and support women survivors of violence, even during the pandemic. The Vice Mayor of Quito, Gissela Chalá also called for developing political strategies to eradicate gender violence including psychological and patrimonial violence against women. The recovery, she stated, will only come if we reinvent ourselves from with a Right to the City approach.

Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala and Vice-President of UCLG for Europe, also argued that violence towards women and girls could become a real crisis in the coming months, and called for gender equality to be framed as a question of human rights. She also highlighted how the crisis will affect migrant and refugee families.

Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, highlighted that incorporating a gendered planning of cities means designing for all women as in the statement of the Executive Director of UN-Habitat. She argued that, in the aftermath, women will need to be in the centre of decision-making since they have been most affected by the crisis and therefore have a critical perspective. Fatimetou Abdel MalickPresident of Nouakchott Region echoed this sentiment by calling for balanced representation of women in decision making processes at all spheres, to protect them and respond to their needs.

Madeleine Almelo-GazmanMayor of Iriga, UCLG Treasury, said that the crisis presents an opportunity to promote gender equality in cities, in the home, and in the workplace. She also argued the only way to overcome the pandemic is by working together, and becoming better citizens to develop a sustainable world.

Elvira Dolotkazina, Vice-Mayor of Nizhnekamsk addressed how local and regional governments can support women’s needs during the pandemic, describing specific plans from Nizhnekamsk during the outbreak to carry out non-discriminatory employment policies and service provision.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73th United Nations General Assembly called for coordinated global action based on solidarity and cooperation. Co-responsibility among spheres of Government, an inclusive multilateralism that considers local governments, and a perspective that considers the 2030 Agenda, she argued, will allow us to develop a new social contract that addresses all inequalities.

Gabriela Cuevas, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), argued that it is key to ensure global agreements become local solutions. She said that the impact of women leadership had been key in the pandemic, in terms of transparency, direct communication on the need to develop inter-governmental dialogues, and being sensitive to different communities.

Paola Pabón, Prefect of the Pichincha region focused on  the need to think about food sovereignty and security in the aftermath of the pandemic, calling for the activation of  the whole range of  popular and solidarity-based economic activities in the aftermath, including micro-finances for women, small-scale producers and agriculture. Fatma Şahin, Mayor of Gaziantep, argued that food security will be a crucial issue for the future, as will be the need to guarantee healthcare for all populations.

Hajjia MariamPresident of REFELA Ghana, called for all spheres of government to pay attention to vulnerable communities, addressing in particular children living in the streets in order to truly leave no-one behind.

Prior to ending the session, the group reflected in a Mentimeter exercise on what a Generation Equality Coalition for leadership should strive for. The word cloud resulting from the survey highlighted three key concepts: justicefreedom, and human rights.

The wrap-up of the session was handled by Octavi de la Varga Secretary General of Metropolis, and Ana Falú, UCLG UBUNTU advisor. The Secretary General of Metropolis argued that it is necessary for male leaders to listen to women perspectives and approaches, and to support this transformation. Ana Falú called for political leadership to generate new links among people and institutions. She argued that women’s leadership in national states and provinces, as well as local governments, is essential to this end, and called for a roadmap to think about the post-COVID era in terms of what it means for women, and how to articulate a way forward.

At the  closing, Shipra Narang Suri, Chief of the Urban Practices Branch of UN-Habitat, reiterated the commitment of UN-Habitat to support gender equality in local governments.

Cities were called to upload their experiences in the platform www.citiesforglobalhealth.org where over 400 cases can be found. The live learning exercises will continue throughout May, with experiences on accessibility and public service delivery.

About Live Learning Experience Series:
The Live Learning Series hosted by UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat, has brought together more than 1,000 participants over the course of six sessions in which participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, and partners from civil society shared their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the pandemic through the provision of key basic services.

The series started late March and cities across the globe have shared their experiences, initiatives and actions in response to the pandemic. They also shared their frontline views on how cities may transform beyond the outbreak.

About United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG):

UCLG is the global organization of local and regional governments and their associations that represents and defends their interests on the world stage. Representing 70 per cent of the world’s population, UCLG members are present in all world regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Eurasia, Middle East-West Asia, Latin America and North America – organised in seven continental sections, a metropolitan section and a regional forum. This network covers more than 240,000 cities, regions and metropolises and more than 175 local and regional government associations present in 140 countries. UCLG includes among its main areas of political interest local democracy, climate change and environmental protection, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, local finance, urban development and city diplomacy for peacebuilding. Visit www.uclg.org and follow @uclg_org for more.

About UN-Habitat:

UN-Habitat is the UN agency focused on our cities, towns and communities. UN-Habitat works in over 90 countries supporting people in cities and human settlements for a better urban future. Working with governments and local partners, its high impact projects combine world-class expertise and local knowledge to deliver timely and targeted solutions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a dedicated Goal on cities, SDG 11 – to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.   Visit www.unhabitat.org and follow @unhabitat for further information.

For more details contact:
Alejandra Salas
UCLG World Secretariat, Barcelona
communication@uclg.org

Susannah Price
Chief of Communication, UN-Habitat
susannah.price@un.org
Tel 254 722 719867

Press release: African cities without street children, the time of action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Women and youth suffer the most. The risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus is 50% higher,” said Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul (Gambia) and President of REFELA for Gambia, when speaking about the consequences of the Covid-19 virus in informal settlements.

This is proving to be true! The Covid crisis has exacerbated the situation of those who do not have a home. Such is the case for street children who cannot be confined to their homes because they have no home. In Africa there are more than 30 million street children! They live on the streets in conditions of extreme poverty unable to meet their basic needs or receive any education, begging for food and often suffering from serious health conditions. How can these children wash their hands when they have no water? How can they be expected to respect social distancing when they live together in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions?

In Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Bamako, Dakar, Cairo, and Kinshasa, one can see thousands of street children.  Statistics, when they exist, indicate a far lower number than what the reality is! This phenomenon has many causes: poverty, population displacement linked to urbanization, armed conflicts, socio-political crises, natural disasters and famine. In an increasingly urbanized and connected world with huge inequalities and terrible wars, the issue of street children is affecting an increasing number of cities in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world.

UCLG Africa and its network of locally elected women, REFELA, launched the Campaign for African Cities without Street Children in November 2018, during the Africities Summit in Marrakesh, in the presence of and with the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco. More than 60 African Cities have subscribed to the campaign, whose aim is to build a common response to the issue, one which undermines social cohesion within our communities and is a real ticking time bomb that calls into question the resolution of the international community to leave no one behind, as expressed in Agenda 2030.

The Campaign of African Cities without Street Children has been met with great support. UNICEF has shown its interest together with many other international organizations and institutions. However, the campaign now needs to become a reality and to deliver a concrete response to these children who are suffering more than ever.

For this reason, UCLG Africa and REFELA call on the international community to intervene and to provide real assistance. “We need to honour the social pact of our society. The International community can no longer stand by without doing anything to help these children,” said the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. “We need to support cities to finance projects and build shelters, schools, health and psychological centers for these children. We need to transform words into actions.”

Consult the Second Call for expression of Interest for the African Cities Without Street Children Campaign (+)

Botswana-Lobatse Town Council Women Councillors donate Cooking Stoves towards Covid-19 Interventions

Access to Clean and convenient energy for cooking and heating remains a challenge in Lobatse Town, and harvesting of firewood for cooking and heating, is still visible during Lock-Down, an activity that defeats the efforts of extreme social distancing and staying in-doors by the public to curb the spread of corona Virus, as requested by the Government of Botswana.

Today, 17th April 2020, Lobatse Town Councillors Women Councillors, led by the Deputy Mayor for Lobatse Town Council, who is also the Local Government National Woman Commissioner, Honourable Tiny Dinoko, donated 55 cooking stove, and 50 litres of paraffin, to be distributed to households in needs during ‘Lock Down’ Period.

When handing the stoves to the Office of the Area MP, Deputy Mayor, Hon Tiny Dinoko, said as Women Councillors, for Lobatse Town Council, their concern was seeing women pushing wheelbarrows to gather firewood, for cooking, when they should be staying home, to observe Lock Down Regulations as set by the Government. She said, as Women they saw the need the meet Government half way, and provide some stoves for cooking food hampers donated by Government. Her Worship, Dinoko said they contributed funds from their own pockets, and with assistance from Local Investors, to get stoves to relieve women- headed households the burden of going out to collect firewood. She said  they hope the stoves will offer a temporary relieve this difficult time of Covid -19 Outbreak.

She promised that, this donation might not be their last contribution, as they will still work hard to find ways of assisting Lobatse Community and the Government of Botswana, in all its efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

 

Lobatse Town Council Women Councillors, Hon Malebogo Kruger, The Deputy Mayor, Hon Tiny Dinoko, Hon KenanaoMononi, and Hon Agnes Moabi, with Mr Terror Mokwena from the Office of the Member of Parliament.

 

Source: Lobatse Town Council  (Botswana)

International Women’s Day 2020: Message from the President of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA)

Read the message transcribed here. 

 

International Women’s Day 2020, (8 March 2020)

The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Beijing Platform for Action is recognized as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.

more information here

REFELA: Advocating for the involvement of more women

 

During the World Urban Forum, the Network of Locally Elected Women in Africa (REFELA) advocated for the involvement of women in more decision-making bodies.  Mrs Fatna El Khiel, President of REFELA Morocco insisted on this aspect in her introductory remarks to the session organised by the network under the theme “Role of REFELA of UCLG Africa in the successful implementation of sustainable development objectives (SDGs)”.  During the session, Ms. Khiel presented the 3 REFELA campaigns: “African cities without children on the streets”, sponsored by Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco; “African cities with zero tolerance for violence against women and girls” and the campaign of “African cities for women’s economic empowerment and women’s leadership”.

The local elected women present in Abu Dhabi have shown an interest in REFELA’s actions. Mrs. Bongile Mbingo, Ezulwini City Councillor, (Eswatini , Ex Swaziland) is in charge of setting up the REFELA country chapter in Eswatini. The official launch is hoped for March 2020. The number of women involved in local governance is very low. “There are not enough women elected to municipal councils. Most of them are appointed. In our municipal council we are 02 women out of a total of 10 members,” says Ms. Bongile. This situation can be explained firstly by the fact that women are afraid to go out and campaign. Therefore, she welcomes the existence of REFELA, which presents itself as an excellent platform to learn from other locally elected women on the continent and also as an opening to allow local women elected women of Eswatini to address issues encountered on the ground. For her, the priority REFELA campaign for her country is the “African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Women’s Leadership”.

Watch her video interview  

“It’s time for women to take power”, Mrs. Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar

The mayor of Dakar, Mrs. Soham El Wardini has appealed to women for their involvement in local governance. “I call on women to get involved in local governance and even in politics. You know that in Africa, it is women who elect men. Why elect people who then leave you stranded? Women are powerful, they run the world. Because everything that men do, it is women who push them to do it. It’s time now for women to take power“.

Watch her video interview below:

Second Call for expression of Interest for the African Cities Without Street Children Campaign

The Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) brings together women members of political bodies responsible for the governance of African cities and local authorities. This REFELA was created in Tangier, Morocco in 2011. Since 2016, it has constituted the Permanent Commission for Gender Equality of UCLG Africa. It has bodies, the Elective Commission, 45 members and the Executive Bureau, 15 members, distributed among the five sub-regions of Africa. It includes national chapters, (REFELA-Pays), which are intended to be the gender equality commission of the national associations of communities, members of UCLG Africa.

REFELA works in favour (i) of the development of women’s leadership in African cities and local authorities, (ii) the integration of women’s concerns and gender equality in the definition and implementation of policies and strategies of local authorities in Africa. To this end, in its three-year action plans, REFELA has planned the implementation of three (3) campaigns, which have been documented through 3 analytical reports on the issues (street children, violence against women, limits to women’s economic empowerment), on which these Campaigns intend to act with African cities and communities:

  1. The Campaign of African Cities without Children in Street Situations, already launched under the effective Presidency of Princess Her Royal Highness, Lalla Meryem of the Kingdom of Morocco during the Africities Summit in Marrakech (November 2018), a toolbox has been developed, which will support the member cities, for the implementation of this Campaign, in partnership with the Moroccan National Observatory for the Rights of the Child (ONDE); it is this Campaign which is the subject of this call for expressions of interest;
  2. The campaign of African cities with zero tolerance of violence against women and girls has received the UNESCO-Paris-France IdealKent Award for its planning;
  3. The campaign of African cities for the economic empowerment of women has an agreement between REFELA-UCLG Africa and the Federation of Andalusian Municipalities (FAMSI) to support its implementation.

The call for expressions of interest has already been launched in 2018 and more than 60 Cities/Communes have already signed up to the campaign, including those that signed up during the Africities Summit in Marrakech (even municipalities that do not really have this problem, but out of interest in the campaign and in prevention).

This 2nd call for expressions of interest, launched for a period of 3 months, is once again addressed to to mayors and councils of the big cities of Africa, which have this problem of children in street situations and which have not yet joined this Campaign), so that they voluntarily adhere in consequent numbers to the Campaign of African Cities without Children in Street Situations.

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Memorandum of Understanding between REFELA-CGLU Africa and FAMSI, commitments for the promotion of gender equality at the local level

The IV AN-MAR “Andalusia-Morocco” Forum, successfully organized in Seville on 28-29 January 2020, was a real meeting place for municipalities and local authorities from Northern Morocco and Andalusia to discuss issues of common interest in the framework of cooperation between the two territories, and in the presence of pan-African organisations (UCLG Africa and its network of elected women in Africa – REFELA) and international organizations to share their experiences and good practices in the field of local public management and the promotion of common development strategies in a context articulated with the regional and national policies and institutions of each country.

This IV Forum AN-Ma, allowed to exchange on cooperation agreements and relations between the European Union and the role of local governments in a perspective of mutual cooperation, while promoting an articulation between local authorities, civil society and other international organizations.

It was also an opportunity for the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, the President of REFELA, Mrs Dao Macoura Coulibaly and the President of the Federation of Andalusian Municipalities-FAMSI, Mr Ignacio Caraballo, to sign a memorandum of understanding, with a view to concluding a constructive partnership that will bring about change in the field of gender equality at local level.

This Memorandum of Understanding now binds REFELA of UCLG Africa and FAMSI, to collaborate and advance on gender equality issues at the local level and mainly by giving importance to those related to the economic empowerment of women in Local Governments, the results of which can be invested in the work and actions of the Committee on Local Economic Development (LED) of UCLG World.

Thanks are addressed to President FAMSI and to all the leaders and team of the AN-Mar network for the distinction awarded to different mayors of municipalities, for their relevant actions in the field of governance and local development, while valuing the actions of REFELA in promoting gender equality at the level of Local and Regional Authorities in Africa, through this recognition also awarded to the President of REFELA, Mrs. Dao Macoura Coulibaly, Mayor of Fomboulo, Côte d’Ivoire.
This consideration gives women mayors and locally elected women in Africa a real recognition of the value of their continued mobilization. Indeed, since the creation of their network in 2011, women local political leaders have set themselves the objective of launching, implementing and monitoring campaigns with a pan-African scope.

These Campaigns, in collaboration with African cities that have expressed their voluntary adherence to these REFELA initiatives, aim to fight against the vulnerability of street children, to move these adherent cities towards zero tolerance of violence against women and girls and to collaborate together for real action to ensure the economic empowerment of African women.

These Campaigns, aimed at African cities, are in line with the egalitarian aspirations of the African Vision 2063 and are fully in line with international agendas, including the 17 SDGs, in particular SDG5 and SDG11, by 2030.

Dr Malika Ghefrane Giorgi
Special Adviser REFELA-UCLG Africa

Don’t miss UCLG Africa sessions at the World Urban Forum (#WUF10)

The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (#WUF10) will be held from 8-13 February 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This will be the first time that an Arab country will host the world’s most important conference on cities and human settlements.

WUF 10 is convened by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, General Secretariat of the Executive Council, and the ultra-modern Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The theme of the Tenth Session is “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation”.

The World Urban Forum is an important milestone for Local and Regional Governments due to the fact that every two years as it connects the urban and development agenda offering an unparalleled opportunity to meet member states and other partners.

During this important gathering, UCLG Africa will organize 05 mains sessions and participates to others sessions of partners.

On 10 February, UCLG Africa will lead the session on “Local strategies for financing local actions” (Voice from Cities, Room A, 12:30-13:30).

On 12 February, the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) of UCLG Africa will conduct the session on Role of REFELA in the successful implementation of Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs)” (Voice from Cities Room A,15:00-16:30 ).

UCLG Africa will organize three other sessions on:

  • “African Capitals of Culture” (12 February Voice from Cities Room A,14:00-15:00 ).
  • Door of Return – A New Pan-African Era (11 February UCLG Africa Stand ,10:00-11:00).
  • “Creating an Enabler Environment and a Supportive Framework  at African Local Level to protect, promote and enchance Heritage and Culture” (10 February UCLG  Stand ,12:00-13:00).

UCLG Africa will also have a stand in the exhibition area. It will be a place for interactive activities: roundtable discussions and one to one meetings with partners, members and all the key stakeholders .

Don’t hesitate to join us!

Picture Day 1 

Picture Day 2 

For more information visit the website here