International Women’s Day Medal Awarded to Mrs Souad Bendimya from the Membership Department of UCLG Africa’s General Secretariat

On the celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, UCLG Africa has instituted an award, the International Women’s Day Medal. The award will be annually bestowed to a colleague in the General Secretariat or Regional Offices, chosen by her peers, for making a remarkable contribution to the promotion of gender equality and actions in favor of women’s leadership within local and subnational governments in Africa, as well as for the development and strengthening of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) in support of its initiatives and campaigns.

The recipient for 2019 is Mrs. Souad Bendimya, who was awarded this year’s Medal for International Women’s Day.   Mrs. Souad Bendimya works in the Membership Department at the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa in Rabat. Fondly known as “Hajja” by her colleagues, she is one of the most senior staff members, having worked for the Union of African Cities (UVA), which was one of the founding organizations of UCLG Africa.

This Medal is in recognition of the dedication of Mrs. Souad Bendimya to REFELA who has provided an interface between the UCLG Africa secretariat and the network’s leaders, both at the Pan-African level and at the national level. Mrs. Bendimya was also responsible for the creation of a position dedicated to REFELA within the General Secretariat and given her longevity in the organization she is also a source of knowledge and memories of all the changes in the life of the network.

The medal-awarding ceremony in the honor of Mrs. Bendimya took place in the presence of the entire secretariat staff on March 8, 2019 at the UCLG Africa headquarters in Rabat.

International Women’s Day 2019: Focus on the status of three REFELA campaigns (Part 1)

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” Every year, the celebration of March 08 is an important milestone for the Local Elected Women’s Network of Africa (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Standing Committee on gender equality, to highlight the actions and progress taken by these actors in local governance.

For International Women’s Day 2019, REFELA has seized the opportunity to provide an update on the deployment of its three main campaigns that are at the heart of its 2019-2021 Strategic Action Plan (SAP-REFELA). These are:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children

Ø The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

Ø The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment




“African cities without Street Children” in Rabat

The campaign, “African Cities without Street Children,” is an initiative driven by REFELA, supported by the Kingdom of Morocco’s National Observatory for the Rights of Children (ONDE) and UNICEF. The campaign aims to provide solutions for a shared African problem; that which is the vulnerability, accepted insecurity and invisibility of street children. It also aims to mobilize government officials and elected African territorial officials in the protection of children within a decentralized territorial approach.

This Pan-African Campaign was launched under the presidency of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem, at the Africities 8 Summit in Marrakech on November 24, 2018. Expressing his support for the campaign, which was delivered by the Princess, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, called on African leaders to make, “African cities truly worthy of their children.” As President of the ONDE, the Princess stressed that, “what is important is not the world we leave to our children, but rather the children we leave to this world.”

Since the launch of the campaign, a national pilot project, named “Initiative – Rabat without Street Children”, is being implemented under the guidance of ONDE and UCLG Africa, in partnership with the various departments of the Government of Morocco. During two meetings, initiated by ONDE (January 22 and 29), targeting institutional stakeholders, as well as elected officials and representatives of civil society, participants were presented with a work agenda for the creation and development of mapping a three-year action plan and an urban strategy for the protection and promotion of children in Rabat. The initiative, ”Rabat, a city without Street Children,” will lead to the implementation of guides, toolboxes and communication kits, for a city protecting its children, which will be presented at an event that will bring together the 60 African cities subscribing to the campaign.

Discover the 60 Cities subscribing to the campaign (Photo)


See articles on:

The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Reports on the 3 campaigns are available here

International Women’s Day 2019: Focus on the progress of 3 campaigns prepared and launched by REFELA  (Part 2)

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” Every year, the celebration of March 08 is an important milestone for the Local Elected Women’s Network of Africa (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Standing Committee on gender equality, to highlight the actions and progress taken by these actors in local governance.

For International Women’s Day 2019, REFELA has seized the opportunity to provide an update on the deployment of its three main campaigns that are at the heart of its 2019-2021 Strategic Action Plan (SAP-REFELA). These are:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street Children

Ø The Campaign for African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls

Ø The Campaign for African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment




“African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls.” Cities say, “STOP IT.”

The call for expressions of interest, launched on January 31, 2019, targeting territorial communities wishing to voluntarily take part in the, “Campaign of African Cities’ Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women and Girls”, welcomed its first members. The cities and national associations of the following 9 countries have already made commitments: Rabat (Morocco), Saint-Louis (Senegal), Banjul (Gambia), Maradi (Niger), Paynesville (Liberia), Tunis (Tunisia), Bangui (Central African Republic), the National Association of Local Governments of Zambia, and the National Association of Local Authorities in Namibia.  The local authorities for these communities expressed their determination to play their part in eradicating this scourge, which is increasingly plaguing the African continent.

REFELA’s analytical report  shows some progress has been made across the continent, however it also highlights a resurgence of this phenomenon in Africa. According to WHO figures, more than 40% of women in West Africa are victims of violence, with this figure escalating to 65% in Central Africa, leading REFELA to adopt the slogan: “Cities and territories of Africa, it is up to you to act against violence against women and girls.”

In Niger, the Maradi region hosts the highest number of poor people (73.4%) and is also one of the regions with the highest rate of violence against women. “Of the surveyed Nigerian population as a whole, 53% report having experienced at least one act of violence in their lifetime. This proportion is 44% for men and 60% for women. The regions of Zinder and Maradi are the areas with the highest percentage of victims (93% and 83% respectively), (Extent and determinants of GBV in Niger – 2015),” says Ms. Habiba Saadou, the 3rd Vice-President of the Special Delegation from the Maradi region. This situation has motivated local governments to support the REFELA campaign. “Violence, in our area of ​​responsibility, cannot leave anyone indifferent. This violence is so widespread and has such serious consequences that our municipality is committed to reducing it, or, if possible, to putting an end to it,” said Ms. Saadou.  As part of this process, she has formulated two key expectations of the Campaign of African Cities’ Zero Tolerance Against Violence Against Women and Girls:

Ø    Support for the organization of mass campaigns on gender-based violence. These campaigns will include local decision-makers, religious leaders, traditional leaders, etc. The latter are guarantors of traditional authority and have a great influence on community life.

Ø    Support for the implementation of community programs aimed at collective decision-making, for a change in behavior that necessarily implies a change in social norms.

In Senegal, unlike the Maradi region, the city of Saint-Louis is the least affected by violence over the entire national territory, according to statistics in 2017, based on a study produced by the Gender and Society (Gestes) Laboratory at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis. The region of Diourbel is said to be the area where there would be the most cases of this violence, with a rate of 72%.  The least affected region is that of Saint-Louis, whose figures are around 45%, and for the region of Dakar, the rate is estimated to be around 52.5%. Statistics, hovering around 50%, were also given for the other regions of Senegal.

Ms. Penda Diouf, the municipal councilor representing the city of Saint-Louis, highlighted the emergence of a new type of violence via mobile phones. Saint-Louis has begun to initiate actions to deal with this violence. “Following action-oriented research on gender-sensitive budgeting of the municipality of Saint-Louis, it has been shown that the problems of gender-based violence are not supported by the budgets of programs and municipal plans,” indicated Ms. Diouf. At present, the Gender and Development Observatory of Saint-Louis (OGDS) is making a plea for the municipal budget to take charge of, “issues of violence in budgets, programs and plans, within the area of the municipality: schools, public places, households and workplaces, etc., through training, information, awareness, and support. Actions will be agreed with elected officials, civil society and technicians.”

Ms. Diouf is counting on the REFELA campaign to exchange, share, learn and experience projects from other African cities. Her commitment to the cause is unwavering. “I have the duty, the honor and the great pleasure to participate in the eradication of this scourge, which spoils the lives of women and young girls.


Operation zero rape, zero murder, zero violence against women and girls: Liberia

In Liberia, the mayor of Paynssville, Pam Belcher-Taylor, has made the fight to end violence against women and girls her main issue. Indeed, in a recent case, she was reminded of the tragic fate suffered by women who experience violence, in the case of a young lady from her own city.  “A little over two months ago I received a phone call on my way to work. The caller on the other end informed me of a corpse near my residence. I changed course and drove to the scene. Upon my arrival the stench of death permeated the air,” she recalled with horror. “With anticipation I walked towards an abandoned building where I saw from a distance, a figure lying on the ground partially clothed. I focused on the body trying to pretend that the odor was not nauseating and realized it was a woman, probably in her mid-forties, with furrowed lines on her face, eyes closed and facing the heavens. A week later, the investigation to identify this ‘lonely lady’ discovered she had been raped by five people. Since then, I have promised to fight relentlessly, to have ZERO Rape, ZERO Murder, ZERO Violence against WOMEN and GIRLS in PAYNESVILLE!!!!! (Sic).”

In the field, the municipality launched an awareness campaign entitled, “Say NO to violence against our women and girls.” The City Hall team has a door-to-door campaign to share this message with the public. “We are teaching our young girls what signs to look out for to protect themselves from predators and molesters. We don’t want our mothers, daughters and sisters to be another ‘lonely lady’ in an abandoned building,” she said.

In terms of her expectations for this continental campaign, Pam Belcher-Taylor emphasizes the importance of “eradicating this disease.” “Yes, violence against women and our girls is a disease!!!! We, as women leaders, must be courageous and steadfast in our fight. I expect to start the first registry through the Ministry of Gender and Sex Offenders in Paynesville City. I think that, thanks to this campaign, we will be able to give as many women and girls the strength to be heard and to speak out against violence.”

For Ms Belcher-Taylor, REFELA is a platform where dynamic women converge under the values of sisterhood and unity. “I have been a member of many organizations. REFELA has a diverse culture and is a torch for women and girls in Africa. I believe that with determination and instruments for change, REFELA can achieve our goals by 2030.

Situation in CAR

The city of Bangui, (Central African Republic), headed by Mayor Emile-Gros-Raymond Nakombo, is also engaged in the fight to end violence against women and girls. This phenomenon has been accentuated during the multiple crises that the country has experienced. “Most women, who are victims of violence in Central Africa, are those who are economically dependent on their husbands and those who are abandoned by their husbands who are unable to provide for themselves. 79% of the cases of violence against women are due to marital breakdown,” said the Bangui Listening Center which, in January 2012, welcomed 96 women who were victims of violence, 79% of whom left home, 10.4% who experienced physical violence (marital abuse, assault and battery, deprivation of material and financial resources), 4% who experienced ‘moral violence’ in the form of insults and social discrimination, and 3% who experienced sexual violence (including rape of minors, sexual slavery and forced marriages).

In response to this situation, the municipality of Bangui has set up Safety Committees in its 8 districts, in order to carry out local action in the fight against all recorded violence. The celebration of weddings has provided a platform for the President of the Special Delegation of the City of Bangui and the other civil status officers, to raise awareness.

The African Cities Zero Tolerance Campaign on Violence Against Women and Girls will focus on 3 main actions for the eradication of this scourge by 2030.  This will be high on the agenda in the development of policies and strategies of cities and local authorities in Africa to: (i) Raise awareness and develop effective means to combat the trivialization of acts of violence suffered by women and girls in their relationships, in the family, on the streets, in the workplace and in the community and institutions, in the name of stereotypical, socio-cultural practices; (ii) to make the fight against violence against women and girls a priority action in programing, delivery of services and the organization of cities and local communities for the facilitated mobility of women and girls, safe practices in the public space and for urgent, coordinated responses to violence by the various parties concerned; (iii) establish a system for assessing the tolerance levels of local cities and territories to violence against women and to note them, classify them and direct them towards concrete action, to create a climate of change and zero tolerance  to this scourge.

See articles on:

Ø The Campaign for African Cities without Street children;

ØThe Campaign for African Cities for the Economic Empowerment of Women

Reports on the 3 campaigns are available here:

International Women’s Day 2019: Message from Secretary General of UCLG Africa

On March 8 of each year, as is customary, the international community celebrates International Women’s Day. The theme chosen by the United Nations, to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019 is, “Think equal, Build smart, Innovate for change.”

This theme is an invitation to all to not be content with slogans and fashionable attitudes, but to think about actions that need to be taken, so that gender equality is concretely implemented beyond petitions of principle.
Thinking equal should be interpreted as the effort to understand the reality of gender inequality and to take into account this differentiated starting point when proposing appropriate solutions with a view to achieving equality on a socially conceivable and possible horizon. If this requires affirmative action policies that are women-friendly, one should not rule out such policies in the name of equal treatment. 

Furthermore, this is the attitude recommended by the Network of local elected women in Africa (REFELA) when it mobilizes for the strengthening of women’s leadership in the political and administrative governance of local authorities in Africa, and when it launches the campaign of African cities favorable to the economic emancipation of women; a campaign in which all African cities are invited to participate without delay. This is why REFELA supports the achievement of SDGs 4 and 5 more than ever, and urges all national, subnational and local governments, as well as all other stakeholders, to support the achievement of these goals.

It takes intelligence to overcome preconceived ideas about the ‘natural nature’ of gender inequalities, or their religious justification.  Intelligence implies taking into account social constraints, linked to the historical contexts in which gender equality must be advocated, but without ever sacrificing the imprescriptible principle of male-female equality.

Which human being can seriously think that his mother, sister or daughter are inferior beings and do not deserve to be treated like him? How can social stories influence our ways of thinking and acting, sometimes in contradiction to our deepest convictions? The need to resolutely question social practices whenever they conflict with our convictions and our principles takes courage, because it is difficult to question ideas that are socially accepted norms.
Certainly, for the triumph of equality between men and women, one must innovate, first, in the narrative of stories that illustrate the importance of gender equality for the progress of societies. Many members of UCLG Africa will remember that the matriarchal system formed the basis on which family was organized in African traditional societies, and in many respects, still exists in many African communities. 

UCLG Africa  is not afraid to strongly support innovations for greater equality between men and women when these are proposed, as is currently the case in Tunisia, because deep down such innovations reconcile African societies with their ancestral practices.

Happy Women’s Day
To all women, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi,
Secretary General of UCLG Africa

PDF available here

UCLG Africa Retreat 2019: Revitalization of the African Municipal Movement

UCLG Africa held its third institutional retreat during February 18-21, 2019, at the Al Akhawayn University Conference Center in Ifrane, Morocco. The 4 days retreat was attended by sixty participants including: staff from the UCLGA headquarters, three regional offices (West Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa), and partner organizations: UCLG, Metropolis, Cities Alliance, UNECA, World Resources Institute (WRI), CAFRAD; and UCLG Africa Special Advisers:  Mr. Daby Ndiaye, Mr. Gustave Massiah, Mr. Alioune Badiane and Mrs. Claire Mandouze.

The goal of this retreat is to take stock of the situation. For an organization, it is very important that we take a new impetus. The retreat is held to rebuild a momentum. The organization is the political part of the equation, the members, the Executive Committee, the Pan-African Council, the UCLG Africa presidency, the staff, and the citizens. We expect from this retreat more synergy, a remobilization of our members and our staff and new goals, so that we meet our members’ expectations,” said Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, who recalled the components of UCLG Africa that stood at the heart of the retreat.

Day 1   : Who are we   ?

The first day was marked by the opening speech of the Secretary General who recalled the history of the organization and the creation of the municipal movement in Africa.

Today, UCLG Africa consists of 47 national associations of local government. We are a unitary organization, not a confederation. We went through years of division whose unity (sic) was consolidated in 2012, in Dakar, during the 6th Africities Summit.’

He also discussed the fragility of this unity, which only subsisted through the commitment of its members and that of the staff of UCLG Africa.

Our unity is always fragile and it is your duty to fight and keep the unity             of this organization. We need to make members understand that the love of the continent is what will save them and save their children’s future. There is a different level of decentralization on the continent, which implies that specific approaches are needed. The role of regional offices is crucial at this level. The goal is to improve the service rendered to the populations by the implementation of decentralization. Multilateralism is losing ground. There is an inward-oriented identity movement that is extremely damaging for Africa. Tribalism is gaining ground and this is an additional difficulty for the continent. We must make room for youth in the political space and local level is the level of where this is possible. The hope for the continent rests on your shoulders,” he told the young participants at the meeting.

A “fishbowl” which is a round table with 2 or 3 main speakers. When other participants whant to ask questions or made a contribution they rejoin the box where  are the speakers, but they are not allow to stay, only the main speakers are allow to stay in the bowl. This “fishbowl” was a platform of exchange of ideas on how to work in synergy with partner organizations for the implementation of the Global Agendas and of African Union’s Agenda 2063. The moderator was Mr. Sithole Mbanga. Afterfollowed by the construction of a “time line” of the organization, from 2005 to 2019, by UCLG Africa staff.

Exchanges took place in a relaxed atmosphere and staff engaged in a range of group activities, including‘Rock-around-the-Clock,’ which required them to partner with new colleagues to allow them to interact.

Synergy with UCLG and Metropolis

The Deputy Secretary General of UCLG Africa Mr. Sitholé Mbanga moderated a debate with keynote speakers, Mrs. Firdaous Oussidhoum, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of UCLG and Mr. Octavi De La Varga, Secretary General of Metropolis.

Speakers addressed how best to localize the Global Agendas, Agenda 2030 (SDG), the New Urban Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement, The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Contributions called for synergy in order to localize these agendas on the continent through a territorial approach, a gender-based approach, an appreciation of human capital, a reinvention of local democracy and a revision of statistical systems in Africa.

The construction of the “UCLG Africa (2005- 2019) timeline” highlighted how far the organization had come since 2015, and the implementation of GADDEPA (Program of Governance, Advocacy and Decentralized Development for Africa), as part of UCLG Africa’s strategic vision until 2021.


Day 2   : Rebuilding together

Tuesday, February 19, was marked by the Market Place. An exercise where UCLG Africa present his service offerings. Representatives from the different departments and regional offices including members, programs, REFELA, ALGA, the Climate Task Force, Communications, WARO Regional Office, SARO Regional Office and EARO Regional Office, were invited to present their best service offerings and the two main difficulties encountered in the exercising of these functions. The purpose of the activity was to share the role and functions of the different departments and to do this is in a fun way. Participants agreed that this initiative allowed them to have a greater understanding of each other’s work, ‘fine-tune their pitch’, and get to know each other better.

A “fishbowl” debate and exchange of ideas also took place with the partners, Cities Alliance, UNECA and WRI, on the various ways they could collaborate better with UCLG Africa.


Ms. Abera Edlam Yemeru, Chief of the Urbanization Section of UNECA commented that, “There is a need to connect the Urban Agenda to other sectors and to build African cities around the importance of planning. Agenda 2063 is an opportunity for collaboration. We operate at the national level and with UCLG Africa we can reach the local level.

Mr. Leo Horn Phathanothai, Director of International Cooperation at WRI, declared himself open to materializing a partnership in the research sector, particularly through the African Local Government Academy (ALGA).

“We need to ensure that local governments are credible career spaces. The current system of urbanization policies is not adequate in Africa. Youth unemployment is a major challenge for local governments in Africa. UCLG Africa should formalize the partnerships over a period of at least 5 years, said Julian Baskin, Cities Alliance Senior Urban Specialist.

The day ended with a group task on the construction of a new narrative for UCLG Africa and defining the objectives, strengths and weaknesses of the organization. The participants expressed their entire creativity to realise model building (Photos).

Day 3   : Rethinking our actions for the people

Wednesday, February 20, saw participants discuss strategies to determine how best way UCLG Africa could intervene at the global, continental, national, and regional levels and work with the associations of local governments, localities and citizens.

The main messages were:

  • UCLG Africa’s core interest are Africa’s citizens
  • The role of the organization is to help build local governments
  • UCLG Africa’s Agenda should be updated in accordance with GADDEPA
  • Priorities for the organization include empowering young people and regional offices, repositioning the organization and promoting a gender-based approach
  • UCLG Africa must write its own history and proceed to Communication 2.0.


  • Participants voted for 7 priorities on which the organization should be rebuilt.
    • Human Resources Management, Training and Development
    • Financial Viability and Sustainability
    • Good Governance
    • Vision and Strategic Orientation
    • Clear Communication Strategy Plan
    • Learning and Knowledge Sharing Organization
    • Africities


Day 4   : New Roadmap

The retreat closed with the design of a new roadmap for 2019 based on the various proposals presented over the 4 days and covering the following key stages:

  • Activity Matrix
  • Political Executive Committee Meeting in April 2019
  • Meetings with Regions and Partners (May-July)
  • Meeting with the financial partners (June or September)
  • Mobilization meeting of national associations on the sidelines of the UCLG World congress, planned to take place in Durban, South Africa in November 2019
  • UCLG World Congress
  • Annual UCLG Africa Retreat (February 2020).

The Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Sithole Mbanga, expressed his commitment to closely monitor its implementation.

In his closing message, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, thanked the President of the Al Akhawayn University of Ifrane, for hosting the retreat.

“It is important to love what you do. I would like to thank our facilitators and the entire UCLG Africa team. We are part of a fantastic journey and we must be militants. The only fight that must be waged is that of the dignity of this continent. Dignity begins with knowing one’s strengths. Only Africans will develop Africa. It is time to rediscover the culture and history of our continent. Be proud of your continent, dear young people, you have the capacity to do it. Let’s be humble, we are a political organization. A 5-kilometer journey begins with a step in the right direction… During this retreat, we took the first step in the right direction (sic).”


Watch the videos of the retreat here.

Watch the interviews of the retreat here .

Retirement photo album.





UCLG Africa Annual Retreat (18 -21 February 2019)

Initiated in 2017, the third edition of UCLG Africa’s annual retreat will be held from 18 to 21 February 2019 in Ifrane, at the Conference Center of the University of Al Akhawayne (Morocco).

This retreat provides a space for dialogue to reflect on how best the organization can help its members grow and how to strengthen their organizational capacities and abilities.

The meeting will be attended by all UCLG Africa staff (headquarters , regional offices: West Africa region, East Africa Region,  Southern Africa region and ALGA Ouagadougou) and some partners.

The retreat has four main objectives:

Develop a deeper understanding of the continental context;

– Refine the collective understanding of the purpose of UCLG Africa;

– Collectively assess the current state of the organization with a view to ongoing   improvement;

– Clarify the roles, functions, skills and capacities that UCLG Africa will need to thrive.

The program includes workshop work, round tables and plenary sessions.

Watch the video of Day 1 ! 


Call for Expression of Interest : Campaign# ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women and Girls’

I. Campaign Framework

The document is available in PDF

The Campaign# ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women and Girls’, organized under the slogan, ‘African cities and territories, it is up to you to act against violence against women and girls,’ is an initiative from the African Network of Locally Elected Women, REFELA, the Standing Committee on Gender Equality of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), which is a pan-African organization with diplomatic status and headquarters in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco.

REFELA was launched in Tangier, Morocco in 2011. It has an executive board of fifteen members representing the five regions of Africa. The presidency of REFELA is held by the city of Bangangté in Cameroon until November 2021, represented by its Mayor, Mrs. Célestine Ketcha-Courtes.

REFELA is in the fight against all forms of gender-based violence against African women and girls, with the support of UCLG Africa and other partners including the Ministry of Solidarity, Family, Equality and Social Development. This fight is one of the priorities for the United Cities and Local and Regional Governments of Africa, as well as a priority for the rest of the world.

To this end, in its three-year action plan for 2019-2021, REFELA proposes the launch of three campaigns:

  • The campaign of African cities with zero tolerance for violence against women
  • The campaign of African cities without street children
  • The African Cities Campaign for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

This call for expressions of interest is addressed to leaders and councils of African cities and local authorities, as well as to their representative associations who volunteer to join the Campaign# ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence Against Women and Girls’.

II. Interests of the Campaign#

As demonstrated in the first analytical report on violence against women and girls and progress made in the African context, prepared by the REFELA team and disseminated during Africities 8, (November 2018), the rise of this phenomenon seriously threatens the ideals of good governance in African cities and local territories. A commitment to the fight to end violence against women would make it possible to view African cities differently. It would promote a more egalitarian and fair transition of cities and improve the image of local authorities in line with African and international agendas specific to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (the ODD5) by 2030.

This persistent phenomenon contradicts the values of respect, equity and justice that are the very foundation of African societies. It challenges African cities in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and more specifically ODD5: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030.

In this regard, REFELA members propose the campaign, ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women and Girls’, to ensure that the eradication of this scourge by 2030 is high on the agenda of development policies and strategies of African cities and local authorities.

The campaign calls for the free participation of cities and communities that volunteer to become involved. REFELA members are convinced that most of the leaders of African cities and communities will participate, because it is primarily through their ability to seriously address this phenomenon that those responsible for the governance of cities and territories will be judged in their desire to develop more just, egalitarian, inclusive and sustainable cities and communities, in accordance with the prescriptions of the United Nations’ ODD5.

The rejection of injustices and discrimination against women must be the basis for a spirit of solidarity on the part of all women mayors and locally elected representatives and officials gathered within REFELA.  It must include all components of society including civil society organizations, the business community, traditional and religious authorities and partners in interstate or decentralized cooperation engaged in Africa. This is why the ‘Campaign @ African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women and Girls’ has been announced as an international and global campaign.

III. Campaign Membership

The presentation of the campaign ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence Against Women and Girls’ took place within the framework of the 8th edition of the Africities Summit, which took place November 20 – 24, 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco.

Cities and local authorities and their national associations interested in joining the ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence Against Women’ should return the following completed and signed membership form to the UCLG Africa Secretariat no later than April 30th, 2019. Adherents who sign the memoranda of understanding will become active members of the ‘African Cities with Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women and Girls’





UCLG Africa


Contact details  


Address: 22 Rue Essaadyine, Hassan, Rabat 10000,

Royaume du Maroc

Telephone: +212 537 26 00 62

+212 537 26 00 63

Fax: +212 537 26 00 60





Membership form is avialable here.

Profile- Diabate Mamou Bamba: An advocate of transparency through the implementation of participatory budgeting

Corruption is a phenomenon that affects different levels of governance: international, national, regional and local. The fight against this phenomenon requires the involvement of different types of stakeholders; first and foremost the leaders of local and regional governments.

In Mali, the year 2018 witnessed the launch of the first edition of the transparency Prize Award of the Accountable Local Governance Program, PGLR (Programme  Gouvernance Locale Redevable). Three local governments were received awards in April 2018: These were Ouenkoro Local Government, 1st (Mopti region), with Mayor Cheick Harouna Sanakre; Dialassagou Local Government, 2nd  (Mopti region), with Mayor Harouna Guindo and Pelengana Local Government 3rd, (Segou Region), headed by Ms Diabaté Mamou Bamba.

Of the 90 local governments that competed for the Award, Pelangana was the only one headed by a woman. The re-elected Mayor (2016 -2nd term), Ms. Diabaté Mamou Bamba, has become accustomed to conducting participative management within her local government. The PGLR’s transparency contest served as a showcase for the local elected official  to receive recognition from her peers.

This does not mean that you will witness Madam Mayor ‘braiding the laurels’. Reserved and attentive, Ms. Diabaté lets her actions speak for her.  At the UCLG Africa regional strategic meeting for the West Africa region (May 29-30, 2018 – Accra, Ghana), the Executive Director of the Association of Municipalities of Mali (AMM), Mr. Youssouf DIAKITE, shared the good news of her rise to power with the participants.

The President of AMM, Mr. Babacar Ba was also very  proud of his colleague stating: “She will share brilliantly her experience with you.”

Speaking with sincerity and confidence, this is a woman who knows her subject. Scarf knotted at the front, Madam Mayor gave the details of the implementation of the Support Program for Decentralization and State Reform (PADRE) in her community.

“This program has six thrusts. A community resource mobilization action plan must be developed. This plan is made by involving the various stakeholders of the local government: members of the civil society, village chiefs, women, tax services, public revenue services, young people,” she explained.

The second thrust consists of conducting a census of the tax base with the same stakeholders. The census will be carried out using software. Following this there will be a distribution of individual tax notices to everyone after which, people will need to agree on a date to meet during the citizen’s day. “During this day everyone is forced to come and pay. The influential people namely, the mayors, the prefects come to pay in front of the other inhabitants of the village. They show thus the good example and the people take it seriously.

The Pelengana rural local government, located in the Ségou region has nearly 56,269 inhabitants (2009). The tax review is conducted on a quarterly basis. This review represents thrust 5 of the program. This action takes place each quarter and consists in convening the different stakeholders and drawing up the inventory of tax collection. It is an opportunity to ask the village chiefs about the difficulties they encounter for the payment of taxes. “When a village head exposes his difficulties, together we reflect on what we can do and we come up with a solution,” she said.

The culmination of the process is the public feedback session during the third quarter, in the presence of the community as well as the institutions. “During the third quarter of a year ‘n,’ we organize the public feedback session of the year n-1. We present the taxes collected and what the community could do with these taxes. We invite again the authorities, some embassies such as the ones of The Netherlands and Germany that we invited in 2016. We also invited AMM and colleague mayors,” (Holder of an Advanced Technician  Diploma in Forestry and Water).

A true leader

To qualify for the award for transparency, the local government presented in detail, the use it made of citizens’ money. The jury undertook a field trip, not for the purposes of assessing the work of a year, but to assess “the management of the preceding three years.” This means that one has to be ready to single out oneself among the 90 local governments out of the 180 which are covered by the program.

The members of the jury noted that the local government was fulfilling its mission regarding the organization of public feedback sessions. There were minutes of meetings, minutes of public feedback. The local population was involved in the preparation of the budget. They noted that nothing was carried out in the local government without the knowledge of the people. They noted an involvement of the various stakeholders, elected officials, village chiefs and the people in the running of the life of the community,” said Ms. Diabate.

Unfortunatley, her local government did not win the first prize, because, “its rate of mobilization of resources did not reach 90%,” claimed Ms Diabate.

Ms Diabate expressed her pleasure as a member of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) and as a beneficiary for the training in participatory budget. Training has been integral to introducing an inclusive management style in her town hall. “I was able to undergo the participatory budget training with REFELA in Tunisia in 2013. I implemented this in my local government. This was an important and decisive factor in the prize awarded of my local government,” she acknowledged.

REFELA, the UCLG Africa Gender Commission, can count on its representative in Mali to share its expertise. Indeed, the local elected official has a wider vision, employing the motto “train to train.” In the field, she is already busy, working to make other local governments showcases of economic development, like hers.

I call to my fellow mayors, to always move along the line of setting up participatory budget, because trust comes only where there are confidence criteria. How can we take taxpayers’ money and not show them how their money is spent? We have to share information. This is what is missing in Africa. I calll to the women mayors to share their experience. In Mali, I support fellow women mayors during the public feedback exercises. I was in Gadougou 2 Local Government in Kita Circle, it was the first time since the decentralization that there was a feedback session for the people. The latter thought that the money collected in the local government went directly to the circle in Kidal. They realized after this public feedback session that it is with their money that we pay the staff, it is with their money that we pay 10% that the partners request for the investments. This year I asked a question to the mayor on resources mobilization, and she informed me she already succeeded in mobilizing, during the first quarter, 50% of the resources.”


Ms. Diabate is described as “a woman activist  with great experience, who fights tirelessly for the emancipation and empowerment of women in Mali,Mali Web, in 2016. She was named Personality of the Year, by the local press in 2013.  She has held positions Secretary of Training within the Executive Committee of the Association of Municipalities of Mali; President of the Joint Technical Committee of Lux Development in the Ségou region; Representative of the Network of Local Elected Women of Mali and the Network of Local Elected Women of West Africa (REFELA).


Participatory budgeting is a powerful tool in the fight against corruption at the local level for citizens and elected officials, who are at the center of the process. In order to sustain the training of leaders of local and regional governments, UCLG Africa has decided to structure the capacity building component of local elected officials through the operationalization of the African Local Governments Academy (ALGA). The participatory budget college is one training course offered by the academy. A first training session took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 27 February to 01 March 2018.

It should be noted that in Mali, the Accountable Local Governance Program (PGLR), launched in 2015 for a term of 6 years, is funded by the Dutch Embassy to the tune of $16.77 million. The overall objective of the program is to contribute to the development of basic social services by improving the management of local public affairs and setting in motion a sustainable movement (a culture) of Young Citizens, active and engaged in governance; as well as raising the level of accountability of local authorities and public services management bodies in the management of public funds and services.

Call for Expression of Interest : Campaign @African Cities without Street Children

I. Background about the Campaign @African Cities without street children

The document is available in PDF.

The Network of Women Elected officials of subnational and local governments of Africa (REFELA) regroups women members of the political bodies dealing with the governance of city and subnational governments of Africa.

REFELA was launched in Tangiers, Morocco, in 2011. It is managed by an executive Bureau that includes 15 members representing the five regions of Africa. It has national chapters that are called to be the gender equality committee of the national associations of local and subnational governments in each African country. It includes national chapters intended to be the gender equality commission of the national associations of communities. The Chair of REFELA is until November 2018 under the responsibility of the City of Bangangté in Cameroon, represented by its Mayor, Mrs. Celestine Ketcha-Courtes.

REFELA supports the development of Women leadership within African city and subnational governments, as well as the inclusion of the concerns of Women in the definition and implementation of African city and subnational government’s policies and strategies. To that effect, in its triannual action plan for 2019-2021, REFELA proposes to launch three campaigns: 1. A campaign on African Cities without street children; 2. A campaign on African cities to zero tolerance of violence against women’s ; 3. A campaign on Africa Cities favorable to Women’s economic empowerment.

This call for interest is addressed to African city and subnational government’s leaders and councils and their respective national associations, willing to adhere to the Campaign @African Cities without street children.

II. Rationale of the Campaign @African Cities without street children

For REFELA members the rise of the phenomenon of children living in the street in African cities is a serious threat for the branding and good governance of these cities, and shall not be underestimated as is the case currently. This phenomenon shall to the contrary interrogate all of us, as political leaders, as city dwellers, as parents, and as human beings.  Its persistence contradicts the values of solidarity and sharing that are recognized as fundamental values in all African societies.  It damages the capacity of city and subnational governments to meet the sustainable development goal 11 (SDG 11) calling for the development of just, safe, inclusive and sustainable cities and human settlements, where no one is left behind. That is why REFELA members are proposing to launch the Campaign @African Cities without street children in order that addressing this trouble and even eradicating it between now and the year 2030 be among the priorities of policies and strategies of African city and subnational governments.

This campaign calls for a free adhesion of African city and subnational governments willing to participate. REFELA members are however convinced that most city and subnational government’s leaders will choose to adhere, because it is also and probably in the first place against their capacity to seriously address this phenomenon that the political will of African city and subnational government’s leaders to realize the requirements of SDG 11 will be assessed. The fate of children is the cardinal quality against which the human and sustainable character of any society is measured. Placing the item of rejection of injustice and discrimination against children in the local policies is without any doubt one of the most fundamental moral requirements for any city or subnational government, in Africa and elsewhere in the world. This rejection shall be at the basis of a solidarity movement between all, starting with the city and subnational elected officials, but encompassing also all layers of society, including civil society organizations, the business sector, the traditional and religious authorities, and bilateral development partners and partners of the decentralized cooperation active in Africa. This is also why the Campaign @African Cities without street children is meant to be an international global campaign.

In order to give a solid institutional and financial backing to the campaign, the REFELA Bureau members found it useful and necessary to set up: (i) a Steering Committee and a Support Committee that gather a number of internationally reputable women that have shown interest in the cause of children, and (ii) a participatory financing platform (crowdfunding) in order to mobilize contributions and financial support in favor of the campaign across the world.

III. Adhering to the Campaign @African Cities without street children

The official launching of the Campaign @African Cities without street children will happen in the framework of the 8th edition of the Africities Summit that will take place on 20 – 24 November 2018 at the Palais des Congrès in Marrakesh, Morocco. At this occasion, a Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signing ceremony between participating cities, local and subnational governments, and associations, and UCLG Africa will be organized. MoUs signatories will receive the qualification and certificate of Founding Member of the Campaign @African Cities without street children.

Interested city and local and subnational governments and their associations shall send the following Registration Form to the UCLG Africa Secretariat no later than September 30th, 2018.







Contacts of UCLG Africa

Adress 22 Rue Essaadyine, Hassan, Rabat 10000,

Royaume du Maroc

Telephone +212 537 26 00 62

+212 537 26 00 63

Fax +212 537 26 00 60




(See attached registration form)


REFELA presented at the regional meeting of Souss Massa in Morocco

The General Directorate of Local Authorities (DGCL) of Morocco organized on July 26, 2018 in Agadir in the region of Souss Massa (Morocco), a regional meeting on the theme: “Supporting women leadership for good territorial governance sensitive to gender” .

The meeting was organized in partnership with UN Women, the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC), UCLG Africa and the Moroccan chapter of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA).

Several interventions focused on advances in gender equality and the budget sensitive to gender. REFELA’s Special Advisor of UCLG-Africa, Ms Malika Ghefrane informed more than 120 elected women on the Network, its organization, its vision and its action plan, as well as the Africities 8 summit (20-24 November 2018, Marrakesh, Morocco). “One of the goals of this summit is to give more visibility to African women and make their voices heard for Africa’s transition to more equality and justice,” she said.

The theme of the next Africities summit is “The transition to sustainable cities and territories: the role of local and regional authorities in Africa“.

Read the concept note of the Summit here.