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Decentralization & Climate: Joint UCLG Africa and WAEMU CCT mission in Togo

From April 27 to May 1, 2021, a joint mission of UCLG Africa and the Council of Local and Regional Governments of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (CCT / WAEMU), was carried out in Lomé, Togo. The goal of the mission was to mobilize the partners intervening in the field of decentralization, climate action and local authorities in Togo with a view to their contribution and participation in the Forum on the strengthening of resilience and the increase of climate ambition of local authorities in Africa scheduled to take place on June 10 and 11, 2021 in Lomé. This International Forum is organized in collaboration with the WAEMU Commission within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) which supports local and regional governments in preparing climate-energy plans but also to access climate finance.

The UCLG Africa delegation was made up of Ms. Macoura Dao, Mayor of Foumbolo, Côte d’Ivoire, President of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General, UCLG Africa, Mr. Mohamed Nbou, Director of the Climate, Biodiversity and Food Systems Department, UCLG Africa and Ms. Nisrine Bennani, Assistant in the Climate, Biodiversity and Food Systems Department, UCLG Africa. The WAEMU CCT team was made up of Ms. Aminata Sy, Director of Regional Planning, WAEMU Commission, Mr. El Hadj Malick Diop, President of the Economic and Financial Commission, CCT / WAEMU, and Mr. Eric Talardia Kondia, Senior Technical Expert, Local Transboundary Cooperation Program (PCTL), CCT / WAEMU.

Working sessions were held with His Excellency Mr. Payadowa Boukpessi, Minister of State, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Development of Territories;  Professor Dodzi Komla Kokoroko, Minister of Primary, Secondary, and Technical Education and Handicrafts, President of the University of Lomé, Mr. Antoine Edjeba, Minister Delegate to the Minister of State, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization, and the Development of Territories; Mr. Kamal Alao Adjayi, Mayor of the Golfe 3 Commune in Lomé, but also with the delegation of the European Union, the UNDP Togo, the BOAD, the ECOWAS Bank of Investment and Development (EBID), the Municipalities of Togo (FCT) and with REFELA-Togo. Two partnership agreements were signed between UCLG Africa and the University of Lomé and between UCLG Africa and EBID.

The Forum should enable local authorities in the WAEMU area to prepare their contributions to the Meeting of Mayors and Elected Officials of Local and Regional Governments scheduled within the framework of COP 26 which will be held in Glasgow (Scotland) in November 2021. One of the results that UCLG Africa wishes to have at the end of the Forum is the definition of a Readiness program for the access of local authorities in the WAEMU area to the Green Climate Fund, thanks to the support of its partnership with BOAD which is an entity accredited with the Green Climate Fund.

The Secretary General of UCLG Africa pleaded and asked the Minister of Territorial Administration of Togo that Togo should be among the signatories of the African Charter of the Values ​​and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union during their conference held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014 and that the umbrella organization of Togolese municipalities should  be considered as a public entity, and not a non-governmental organization under the law on associations.

Meeting with the E.U. Delegation

The working session with the European Union Delegation of took place on April 28, 2021. Discussions with Mr. Joaquim Tasso Vilallonga, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation to Togo revealed that the consultations conducted between the government and the Togolese actors and the European Union resulted in the choice of three priority pillars for European cooperation in Togo: 1. Human development; 2. Agriculture and agribusiness; 3. Peace and security, of which the decentralization policy constitutes an essential element. In addition, three flagship programs have been selected for Togo in the new 2021-2027 cycle of European cooperation within the framework of Team Europe, namely: 1. Decentralization: 2. Renewable energies; 3. Support for SMEs / SMIs, particularly in the agricultural and agribusiness sector. The projects eligible for the European cooperation program in Togo would be assessed according to three markers: a) a gender marker (85% of projects proposed for European cooperation funding would be assessed according to their heir impact on women); b) a climate change marker (at least 50% of projects submitted for funding from European cooperation would be assessed according to their contribution to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and to adaptation to climate change); and c) a job creation marker for young people (at least 50% of projects will be analyzed according to their impact on the employment created or maintained for young people to be eligible for funding from European cooperation).

The other stakeholders that were met during the mission, namely UNDP, BOAD, BIDC, and Expertise France, expressed their willingness to take part in the Forum on strengthening the resilience and increasing the climate ambition of local governments in Africa scheduled to take place on June 10 and 11, 2021 in Lomé.

The working session with the umbrella organization of Municipalities of Togo and REFELA-Togo was held on April 29, 2021. Ms. Yawa Kouigan, Mayor of the Ogou 1 Commune of Atakpame, President of the FCT, was accompanied by Ms. Dede Akpedje Messan , Municipal Councilor in the Municipality of Golfe 6 Baguida, Lomé, President of the Locally Elected Women of Togo,  and by Mr. Koumtchane Siangou, Permanent Secretary of the FCT. The FCT President expressed great interest in having her 117 members adhere to the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA). The President of REFELA held a special session with the President of REFELA Africa on the strategy for implementing the campaigns and the REFELA action plan.

Celebration of the 10 years of existence of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) : encouraging assessment for the pioneers of equality action (PRESS RELEASE)

On March 11, 2021, the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), which constitutes the standing committee for gender equality of UCLG Africa, organized a webinar to celebrate its 10 years of existence. The meeting was held under the theme: “REFELA, a Network, a Vision and an Agenda at the service of the promotion of female leadership and gender equality in local Africa”.

About a hundred participants took part in the event. The official opening was punctuated by speeches of: Mrs. Macoura DAO COULIBALY, Mayor of Foumbolo (Côte d’Ivoire), President of REFELA, Mr. Eugène MBA, President of UCLG Africa (speech read by Mrs. Annie Chrystel LIMBOURG IWENGA, Second Deputy Mayor of Libreville), Mr. Khalid SAFIR, Wali of the DGCT of the Ministry of the Interior of Morocco, and Mr. Jean Pierre ELONG MBASSI, Secretary General of UCLG Africa. The session was moderated by Mrs. Rahmatouca SOW, Advisor for International Relations and Political Affairs of UCLG Africa.

Ms. Dao praised the actions carried out by her predecessors at the head of REFELA since the creation of the network in 2011 within the framework of the first Forum of locally elected women of Africa held in Tangier (Morocco). “Today, the network has 30 country chapters on the continent, representing 55% coverage of African countries. The promotion of female leadership in the territories and in the regions is not yet very entrenched: we must work more to get girls and women to take an interest in the concerns of their sisters in the territories “.

For his part, Mr. Eugene Mba was delighted that his first official public activity as president of UCLG Africa was to celebrate gender equality within local authorities. “The dynamism of REFELA has surprised many and is a source of pride for African mayors. UCLG Africa is committed to promot women in its governance bodies. The Executive Committee of UCLG Africa, which is the political body of the organization, now has 30% of women. I intend to launch a momentum aimed at achieving parity and equality within the Executive Committee of UCLG Africa during the next terms in office of the members of our organization. This is an opportunity to thank REFELA for having made it possible, through its campaigns, and to alert and educate our leaders and our populations on the evils of our societies which hamper our dignity. Our thanks go to Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco for having accepted to be the godmother of the campaign “African cities without children in street situation”, and this is also an opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Morocco for supporting REFELA right from the start ”.

Mr. Khalid Safir welcomed the fact that Morocco was the birthplace of the REFELA network which was born in Tangiers in March 2011. “On this day commemorating the creation of REFELA, the network has proven to be a catalyst for locally elected women in Africa and a space for an exchange of views and experience between elected women at all levels. Since the creation of REFELA, Morocco has not ceased to support your network and will continue to do so, convinced that locally elected African women are a force for our continent. With the adoption of the 2011 Constitution, Morocco has established gender parity as a goal to be achieved in all public policies. My country will always remain by your side because its achievements will be yours”.

Mr. Elong Mbassi expressed his emotion to participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of REFELA. “I remember those 4 days spent in Tangier from March 8 to March 11, 2011, with elected women from Africa determined to make their voices heard. I extend my thanks to the Kingdom of Morocco for its invaluable support “.

The celebration took place around 4 focus areas:

-A historical reminder of the birth of REFELA marked with a presentation by Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of the African Local Government Academy (ALGA) of UCLG Africa, and the testimonies of the first 4 presidents of the Network: Ms. Milouda Hazib, Vice- President of the Marrakech-Safi Regional Council (Morocco), Former President of REFELA (2011), Ms Maria Helena Langa, Mayor of Mandlakazi (Mozambique), former President of REFELA (2012), Ms Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malik, President of the region of Nouakchott (Mauritania), former president of REFELA (2012-2015), and Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès, Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Cameroon), former President of REFELA (2015-2019). The discussions were moderated by Ms. Jacqueline Moustache Belle, upcoming Director of the Gender and Youth Department of UCLG Africa.

-The second part of the webinar focused on the equality generation and saw the interventions of : Ms. Leila Rhiwi, UN-Women Representative for the Maghreb (represented by Ms. Sacha Belle -Clot ), Ms. Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG World, and Mr. Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions ( CEMR ).

-The third part of the webinar consisted of presenting the endorsement of the city of Rabat and its mayor, Mr. Mohammed SADIKI, to the REFELA campaigns.

-The fourth part of the webinar gave rise to a round table with the vice-presidents of REFELA: Ms. Fatna EL-K’HIEL (Vice – president of REFELA for the North Africa region), Ms. Yvonne EYIDI née EBODIAM TCHOUMBI (Vice-president of REFELA for the Central Africa region), and Ms. Esther RATSIMBAZAFY Sahondramalala (Vice-President of REFELA for the East Africa region). This segment of the meeting was moderated by Dr. François Paul YATTA, Director of Programs at UCLG Africa.

The exchanges made it possible to take assessment of the network’s achievements, to discuss the challenges that remain, and to evoke the future perspectives in terms of actions and cooperation.

At the time of the assessment, after 10 years, REFELA has come a long way and counts to its achievements:

– The recognition of the Network at the international level;

– The renewal of the network on the continent with a 55% coverage through the 30 country-chapters of REFELA;

– The implementation of the three REFELA campaigns (in 2018, Campaign of African Cities without Children in Street Situations (54 members), in 2019, Campaign of African Cities with Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women (22 members) and in 2020, Campaign of African cities favorable to the economic empowerment of women (+80 members) ;

– The signing of a partnership with the National Observatory for the Rights of the Child of the Kingdom of Morocco as part of the implementation of the “Campaign of African Cities without Children in Street Situation” (2018);”

– The signing of the Europe-Africa-Pact for Local Equality, between REFELA-UCLG Africa, UCLG, and CEMR (2018);

– The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between REFELA-UCLG Africa and FAMSI (Andalucía) for the implementation of the “Campaign of African cities favorable to the economic empowerment of women” (2020);

– The establishment of governance mechanisms for the implementation of the Africa-Europe Pact (2019: establishment of the Africa-Europe Committee to support the drafting of the “Local Authorities Charter for Gender Equality in Africa” (political body, made up of African and European elected officials) ;

– The realization of an online consultation (2019) and preparation of an analytical report on the results of the online consultation (2020);

– The organization of capacity-building activities for locally elected women;

– REFELA contributed to the creation of a Committee on Gender Equality within UCLG World;

– REFELA’s contribution to the journey of locally elected women aiming to occupy ministerial positions, like Ms. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda (former Mayor of Libreville, former President of UCLG Africa, current Prime Minister of Gabon), Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès (Former President of REFELA, current Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Cameroon), and Ms. Jacqueline Moustache Belle (Former Mayor of Victoria, Chief of Protocol to the President of the Republic of Seychelles).

Message from the past presidents

In their speeches, the past presidents of REFELA welcomed the progress made by the network while insisting that the battle for equality has not yet been won. “REFELA was a network to boost local economic development. After 10 years, we must be proud of all the achievements. However, there is still a long way to go, and advocacy must continue. This is particularly the case for the presence of more women on the electoral rolls in Africa. The management of these lists remains to be improved in order to better pave the way for women to run on an equal footing with men “, said Ms. Milouda Hazib.

“We have made sure that the national associations of local and regional authorities admit REFELA as a standing commission on gender. We must continue to promote the self-esteem of women “, said Ms Maria Helena Langa, from Mozambique”.

« “We were able to set up the first network of locally elected women in the world. This is a source of pride for us as an African woman. We went around the world and handed the REFELA Key to personalities like Ban Ki Moon (United Nations SG from 2007 to 2016). We must constantly and consistently support women, especially in this period of Covid-19. We must do a lot of advocacy with countries to review electoral laws, and provide training sessions because mayors change after elections. We need continuous training for elected women”, said Ms. Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malik, from Mauritania.

“Mayors are the doctors of the populations. We had more than 700 women mayors when REFELA was created. REFELA has produced women ministers, advisers to heads of State, one Prime minister, but have we succeeded in making a planet 50/50 at the local level? The answer is no. For example, Cameroon has 40 women mayors out of 374. 40 WOMEN out of 374 mayors! In this period of the pandemic, we must mobilize women more in the fight against Covid-19 ”, declared Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès, from Cameroon.

In pursuing this fight to achieve parity, REFELA can count on the support of its partners, including UCLG and CEMR.

“Congratulations to REFELA on its 10th anniversary. We will be celebrating them globally on March 17, 2021. Our movement is driven by equality. UCLG is now co-chair of the Equality Coalition with UN-Women. UCLG will ensure that your demands in Africa are heard. We are grateful that REFELA has taken the issue of street children to the global level. We recognize the successes and remember that the fight continues. Equality must remain at the heart of our movement”, said Ms Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG World.

“Equality is a fight that must be fought by strong personalities and this is what has motivated this movement. It is difficult to lead a political fight as a woman. I believe you can be proud of what has been done over the past 10 years. We have been partners of REFELA from the start at CEMR. The work of developing the Local Authorities Charter for Gender Equality in Africa continues. CEMR with the help of Platforma will finance the finalization of the Charter. It is an African charter that must be written and developed by African women and for African women. Equality is not just about women. We must mobilize all the people who believe in equality and convince them”,said Mr. Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, declared: “Three words seem to sum up perfectly my feelings at the end of the exchange of views and experience marking the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the creation of REFELA on March 11, 2011 in Tangiers, Morocco: enthusiasm, commitment and empathy. First of all, enthusiasm and pride of REFELA members in claiming their belonging to a real family, driven by a common drive, that of promoting equal dignity between men and women and equal access to rights and responsibilities. Then the members of REFELA are committed to continuing to consolidate their network through the establishment of national chapters and resolute advocacy in favor of gender equality, which will be marked by the adoption of the Charter of Local and Regional Authorities of Africa for Gender Equality at the Africities Summit scheduled for April 26-30, 2022 in Kisumu, Kenya; but also commitment of the Government of Morocco to continue to support REFELA in its just fight for equality, which corresponds perfectly to the orientations of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco in favor of equality between men and women. Lastly, empathy towards children living in the street so that these situations that are unworthy of the societies of our cities and territories do come to an end; towards women and girls victims of violence so that these practices are no longer tolerated in our cities and territories; and towards women who are economically and socially discriminated against so that they can finally enjoy equal rights and emancipation through the action of our cities and territories. The three campaigns launched by REFELA, namely African cities without children in street situations; African cities with zero tolerance for violence against women and girls; and African Cities favorable to the economic emancipation of women, do express REFELA’s wish to find answers to the ills of our societies and to join the actions of all those who participate in the coalition for Generation Equality promoted by the Nations United Nations, and specifically UN-Women”

For further information, please contact:

Gaëlle Yomi : Tel : + 212 610 56 71 45
e-mail : gyomi@uclga.org
Visit the UCLG Africa website : www.uclga.org

International Women’s Day 2021: Speech of the President of REFELA

More than 25 years ago on September 4, 1995, the Beijing Declaration was adopted, through which the governments of the member states of the United Nations pledged to, quote, “to achieve equal rights and the intrinsic dignity of men and women (…); to guarantee the full realization of the rights of women and girls as an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms ”, end of quote.

Declaration mentions in paragraph 11 the following, and I quote: “We are convinced that the empowerment of women and their full participation on an equal footing in all spheres of social life, including decision-making and their access to power, are the essential conditions for equality, development, and peace ”, end of quote. This declaration, adopted more than 25 years ago, remains very relevant today.

Read more here

The Social and Solidarity Economy at the heart of the REFELA agenda: a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa

On 23 October 2020, the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) facilitated a session on, “The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) at the heart of the REFELA’s Agenda: a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa,” as part of the framework for the virtual Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) held from October 19 to October 23, 2020.

Fifty participants took part in the session including, Mrs. Annie Chrystel Limbourg Iwenga, Deputy Mayor of Libreville, Gabon, member of the REFELA Caucus for Central Africa; Ms. Macoura Dao representing the President of REFELA; Ms. Rahmatouca Sow, Advisor for Political Affairs and International Relations at UCLG Africa; Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General for UCLG Africa; and Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF).

The deputy mayor of Libreville, Mrs. Annie Chrystel Limbourg Iwenga, underlined the fact that in Africa, social entrepreneurship is a rapidly emerging phenomenon that responds to unmet social needs and the limitations of traditional public policies in the social and employment field. “Let us recall that REFELA has placed at the heart of its agenda, not only the launch but also the implementation and the follow-up of, ‘The Campaign of African cities favorable to the economic empowerment of women. Indeed, for REFELA, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), constitutes a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa. Women mayors and local elected officials on the continent are convinced that this sector is a significant part of getting women out of the informal sector and out of precariousness by giving them a local economic positioning that matches their potential,”

This point of view is shared by Ms. Rahmatouca Sow. REFELA supports more than ever, the achievement of SDGs 4 & 5 and urges all national, sub-national and local governments, as well as all stakeholders, to support the achievement of these goals. This forum is taking place in the context of a global pandemic which has shown how fragile, non-egalitarian and non-inclusive our economies are. This economic and social crisis particularly affects women. We will not overcome the crisis by relaunching growth, but by changing the economic paradigm, by daring to resort to a plurality of alternative and endogenous models. It seems relevant to see how the social and solidarity economy can position itself in relation to these issues and provide solutions and alternatives to the dominant and traditional models. Investing in women’s entrepreneurship in Africa makes a lot of sense. 26% of women of working age in Africa embark on business creation, but only 4% of women entrepreneurs access a bank loan. It is imperative that we support these women on the path to success because they are key players in sustainable economic development in Africa. Let us commit to forming new alliances between generations, urban, rural and metropolitan territories areas.

Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), thanked UCLG Africa for taking part in this virtual global forum through REFELA, under the theme of great challenges, more solidarity, the power of the community and the social and solidarity economy as a transformational tool. “This REFELA session is an initiative that I would like to congratulate as an implementation of the REFELA commitment since the Africities summit in November 2018. I am convinced that SSE will be an effective lever to guarantee the economic empowerment of women in Africa. Africa is now at a crossroads. African countries generate more resources than they can invest in infrastructure and human development. With significant population growth, how can we ensure a fair distribution of prosperity for all, especially in the current context of crisis linked to COVID which worsens poverty and inequalities? Elected officials and political decision-makers are looking for alternative strategies. For us, the key to these alternative strategies lies in the social and solidarity economy anchored at the local and territorial level, which has proved to be a resilient and very effective strategy to respond to all economic and social crises such as the 2008 crisis and the current covid-19 pandemic. Africa’s development strategy must come through the empowerment of African women to meet these major challenges. Women mayors must take a leading role.”

Participants were shown a short video from the Mayor Macoura Dao Coulibaly, President of REFELA, which presented experiences and actions in the social and solidarity economy for support of women’s associations in her commune Foumbolo, Côte d’Ivoire. Following this living testimony, Dr. Malika Ghefrane Giorgi, Special Advisor to REFELA, clarified that it is a question of trusting women and their economic potential and their capacities, in terms of activities recognized in Africa, not to confine them to small projects and small income-generating activities (IGA), which remain rather limited in terms of substance and scope, to ensure their effective empowerment and the development of their leadership in the economy of their cities and municipalities. This is one of the goals of the Campaign of African Cities for the Economic Empowerment of Women, documented and referenced through the Africa-wide Situation Analysis Report, published here. A call is therefore made to African cities to join this campaign in order to create a mobilizing movement in favor of the economic empowerment of African women. (See membership form here).

The sub-theme, “ Removing the obstacles to the development of female entrepreneurship in the field of SSE in Africa ,” was developed by Mr. Cheick Gueye , Mayor of the commune of Dieuppeul-Derklé and First Deputy to the Mayor of Dakar, Senegal. The obstacles that hamper female entrepreneurship include socio-economic constraints, the low level of education, the difficult access to production factors (land, equipment) and the obstacles posed by banks with high interest rates which reduce access to loans. As a solution, the local elected official proposed the establishment of a national fund to finance female entrepreneurship at the state level. For local authorities, the First Deputy Mayor of Dakar, proposed the establishment of a financing entity for women, such as the municipal development and solidarity fund (FODEM) for the city of Dakar, whose mission includes the financing of projects for women and young people through the support fund for decentralized financial structures.

Mr. Sergio Castañar, Coordinator of the Federation of Andalusian Municipalities-FAMSI-Spain, gave a presentation on North-South cooperation and the promotion of female entrepreneurship: the case of the REFELA / UCLG Africa and FAMSI- partnership (Spain), for the empowerment of women at the local level. In collaboration between Andalusian municipalities and those of Morocco, an approach of “field schools for women” has been initiated. The project consisted of training women for professions generally reserved for men such as masonry and gardening. The project has been implemented in the cities of Chefchaouen and Tétouan (North of Morocco).

Mr. Gautier Brygo, Director of the Territorial Coaching Program of UCLG Africa, delivered a presentation that looked at parallels between coaching and SSE. “Territorial coaching helps support national programs with SSE. Territorial coaching improves the strengthening of social cohesion and reinvents synergies with local governments. Coaching is a tool that can facilitate the implementation of SS.

The main recommendation from contributions were:

  • A request for the creation of a social and solidarity economy bank. Such a creation would make it possible to meet the needs of SSE stakeholders.

Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) underlined that this was a good avenue for reflection, indicating that, “In Uganda, a bank of this type exists and in Quebec, there are several banks that primarily support ESS. UCLG Africa can reflect on the way in which the Local Governments could support the implementation of this project in each country.

In response, Ms. Rahmatouca Sow was of the opinion that, “REFELA should boost the local level definitions of the co-creation of public policies in connection with this theme of the economic empowerment of women and the social economy. The legal framework must be defined to allow for a favorable framework with the last point being supervision, in particular through solidarity-based finance.

 

 

 

2nd Meeting of the Africa-Europe Committee and of the UCLG Africa working group, in support of the drafting of the “Charter of Local Authorities for Gender Equality in Africa”

Tuesday, 28 July 2020 was the second meeting of the Africa-Europe committee and the UCLG Africa working group, which was held to support the drafting of the “Charter of Local and Regional Authorities of Africa for Gender Equality. “The online meeting was organized by UCLG Africa’s Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) in collaboration with CEMR/Platforma and UCLG, the other stakeholders of the project and signatories of the Marrakech Pact for the promotion of local equality.

The drafting of the Charter forms part of the implementation of the “Marrakech Europe-Africa Pact for Local Equality,” which aims to make progress on issues of gender equality in Africa. The Pact was adopted at the 8th edition of the Africities Summit in Marrakech in November 2018.

The work chaired by Mrs Macoura Dao Coulibaly, President of REFELA, was attended by some 60 members and participants from Africa, Europe, including other continents and countries such as Peru. Opening speeches were made by Mr Léandre Nzue, Mayor of Libreville in Gabon, President of UCLG Africa, Mrs Thembisile Nkadimeng, Co-President of UCLG, Mrs Emilia Saïz, Secretary General of UCLG, Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR-PLatforma and Mr Emil Broberg, President of CEMR’s Standing Committee for Equality.

M. Léandre Nzué, the president of UCLG Africa, emphasized the need to make the charter a reference guide for local and regional authorities on the continent withthe “objective being to arrive at a final text to be submitted to African local elected representatives at the next Africities summit in November 2021“; this to be achieved by encouraging the continuation of the partnership between the 3 organizations of UCLG Africa and its network, REFELA, CEMR-Platforma and UCLG, and to bring the draft charter to completion.

Mrs. Thembisile Nkadimeng stressed the importance of the continent’s local and regional authorities in adopting the charter. “I am convinced that the Charter of Local and Regional Authorities for Gender Equality in Africa is now more necessary than ever, if we want to adopt a path towards generational equality, where women’s leadership is no longer an exception but the new norm. The time has come to ensure the full inclusion and participation of women and girls in the political and social fabric of cities and regions. Equality, especially gender equality, must be placed at the heart of all development processes to ensure that decisions are made conscientiously, without forgetting half of the world’s population when it comes to making decisions that affect us all,” she explained.  (Read More).

REFELA: analytical report on the economic empowerment of women in Africa. A reference document for the Campaign of African Cities for the economic empowerment of women.

REFELA-UCLG Africa has published an analytical report on the economic empowerment of women in Africa, see the link here
This report has been produced for the launch, implementation and monitoring of the campaign for, “African Cities for the economic empowerment of women,” initiated by the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA ), which makes up the permanent commission for gender equality of the Pan-African organization United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).
The 1st edition of the report documents and provides a reference for the campaign with the aim of enabling African regional and local governments and other actors interested in the economic empowerment of African women, to have an overview of this issue. It covers the legal framework, progress made on the African continent and the constraints for women in this sector of the economy, including those that are limited in their economic potential within their cities, and the challenges, which must be addressed urgently in line with commitments made both at the African level (Vision 2063) and internationally (including the SDD goals, especially SDG5: Achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030).

Following the two other campaigns launched by the REFELA-UCLG Africa Network aimed at African cities, “African Cities without street children,” and “African Cities with zero tolerance for violence against women,” this campaign aims at territorializing one of the central problems of the gender issue, namely gender equality in the economic field. REFELA-UCLG Africa is convinced that local and regional authorities can and must play a leading role in helping to empower women and strengthen their leadership and power in this sector of the local economy.

To have a broad perspective on the issue of economic empowerment for African women, a working methodology was adopted. The results and materials collected, analysed and recorded in this report focus on (i) the in-depth documentary study, which made it possible to compile and analyze data from various specialist and reference sources from Africa (AU, ADB) including governmental sources and international sources, (United Nations ECA, UN-Women, ILO, UNDP, World Bank) et al (ii) the profiling of 10 countries in the 5 sub-regions of Africa to assess their performance in terms of women’s access to economic opportunities (iii) the analysis of data and results of a preliminary participatory survey conducted by the REFELA Secretariat team, entitled, ”Women entrepreneurs under constraints in African cities,” as well as (iv) the presentation of the framing elements of the campaign, designed to inform and guide the choice of African cities with the voluntary membership of REFELA-UCLG Africa.

        I.     The problem of economic inequality in Africa

Far from being an exhaustive document, the report examines several issues relating to women’s economic equality and the promotion of women’s economic rights in Africa. The issue of women’s economic empowerment in Africa is addressed in 2 main regards:

  • African and international studies and reports show that despite the fact that women represent about 66% of the labour force in Africa, they occupy only 20% of salaried jobs. From these figures, it can be deduced that a majority of active women still work in the informal sector and are therefore deprived of stable wages and some advantages such as social protection, paid maternity leave, retirement, etc. This high concentration of women in the informal economy and the persistence of gender-based inequalities in the formal economy generate many constraints on women. These constraints are expressed at the level of their cities, living and working areas and are obstacles to the development of their leadership and economic potential.
  • In addition, there is the limited impact of local and regional authorities in African countries on public policies for the promotion of gender in the economic field. The result is that policies are deprived of a local approach that is more subtle, addresses needs adequately and above all, is closer to the reality of the local population concerned, because of the limits of the territorialization of gender-sensitive economic policies and the insufficient involvement of regional and local governments.
  • As illustrated in the report, the various constraints and challenges to be taken up to promote the economic empowerment of women on the continent justifies the relevance and interest of the campaign initiated by REFELA-UCLG Africa and addressed to African cities, that they mobilize and act in favour of a local economy that is more inclusive of women and is gender-sensitive.

          II.    African Context: advances and challenges in women’s economic empowerment

    The report lays out the progress achieved on the continent in promoting women’s equality and economic empowerment through the analysis of legal instruments, policy agendas and projects (at the continental, sub-regional or national level) and existing legislative and institutional mechanisms. The relevance of the legal framework, instruments, protocols and texts put in place by the AU and adopted by the States (Constitutive Act of the AU of 2000, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981 and its additional protocol on women’s rights of 2003, and others) and which are acted upon by those of Africa’s sub-regional organizations (SADC, ECOWAS, and others) and also at the national level (where non-discrimination and gender equality are translated into principles and provisions on which the majority of African constitutions are based).

    Such a context and arsenal demonstrates the political resolve of African States to promote the economic empowerment of women. If African States are as much in line with the AU Vision 2063 and its aspirations for, “The Africa we want,” and in the international dynamic of, “Leave no one behind,” and if progress has been recorded, as analyzed in this report, it is fair to say that this continent remains to this day dependent on an effective improvement of women’s access to their civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights.

    III. REFELA Campaign: A call to action by African cities

    The materials compiled and analyzed in the report including the country profiling, the constraints highlighted and the results of the preliminary survey, where REFELA consulted and listened to women entrepreneurs, provide a global overview of the lack of women’s empowerment in this sector of the economy in Africa and supports the initiative taken by REFELA-UCLG Africa to launch, implement and monitor the campaign for, “African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment.” The main objectives are to:

  • Engage as many African cities and local authorities as possible to strengthen their commitment to promote women’s economic empowerment by 2030;
  • Collaborate and support African cities and local authorities to take ownership of the issue of women’s economic empowerment and to, “Rethink their economic environment in order to make it conducive to equal access for women, as well as men, for economic opportunities, for the elimination of gender-based discriminatory practices, and also for the implementation of affirmative action measures enabling women to be fully involved in the economic life of their cities and to benefit from its positive spin-offs.”
  • Dr Malika Ghefrane Giorgi
    Special Advisor REFELA

    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.

    Read More.

    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)