High-level AU dialogue opens in Kigali on Monday

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Prof. Shyaka addresses participants at the Continental Youth Consultation in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

The African Union will Monday open the Fourth High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa in Kigali.

The two-day meeting, which will bring together more than 40 participants from across the continent, will discuss trends, challenges and the prospects facing the continent.

Addressing the media yesterday, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board, said hosting such an event was a great opportunity for the country.

“We are privileged and excited to host the fourth high level dialogue as a country. It’s an important moment to involve the young people, especially women to participate in this dialogue, we expect them to gain much from it,” Shyaka said.

The dialogue has been preceded by the Continental Youth Consultation, which closes today in Kigali.

The dialogue will seek to review and address the state of women’s equal participation and leadership in political parties in Africa and will focus on the systematic structural barriers relative to culture, patriarchy and gender equality, political economy constraints, especially financing and economic empowerment of women.

It will also focus on normative and institutional framework hurdles, including the effects of various electoral laws and systems, internal party politics, dynamics and structures such as party policies and manifestos, capacity constraints and leadership.

Choice of Kigali, role of women

Khabele Matlosa, the African Union Commission director for political affairs, said they chose to hold the dialogue in Rwanda because the country has made tremendous steps in peace building, social harmony, women’s empowerment, and in other sectors.

“We’ll be sharing the lessons from the country to also address the whole continent,” Matlosa said.

“Equal participation and leadership in political parties by women provides unparalleled opportunities to foster the liberalisation of the party psyche, structure and policies towards active engagement and meaningful participation of women within their ranks.”

Matlosa said if the aspirations and declarations of the AU are to be implemented, women must have access to and exercise political power, not just grassroots influence, as evident in their mobilixation capacities.

“Political parties have great potential and promise to provide a legitimate basis for the effective participation of men and women at every level to ensure that women’s views, concerns and challenges are acknowledged and addressed,” Matlosa said.

The dialogue mainly seeks to emphasise women inclusion, redefining the political understanding and redefining the implementation agenda.

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