Women from regional countries have resolved to step up efforts toward promoting gender equality, women’s rights, peace, security and the fight against gender-based violence.
This is contained in the resolutions drawn from a two-day regional conference that closed on Friday in Goma town in eastern DR Congo.
The conference was organised by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and COCAFEM/GL, a regional umbrella promoting women’s rights in Great Lakes region.
Participants were drawn from Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan to discuss the implementation of the Kampala Declaration on Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
The UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security was adopted on October 31, 2000.
The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction.
On the other hand, the Kampala Declaration was signed on December 15, 2011, by 10 Heads of State of the ICGLR, highlighting 19 resolutions that the member states committed to.
Key in the declaration was to increase financial support for judicial and security sector reform on human and women’s rights, institutions to strengthen or establish national level structure for prevention, protection and support of women and children against SGBV, establish gender desks with sufficient budgets, among others.
Rwanda was hailed at the Friday meeting for progress made in implementing the Kampala declaration compared to other regional countries.
Christine Umulisa, the in-charge of women and children protection at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, said: “We stressed the need to combat gender-based violence. We will continue to maintain and sustain our initiatives and share them with others.”
Martin Nivyabandi, the Burundian minister for human rights, social affairs and gender equality, said placing women in administrative positions can be instrumental in fighting gender-based violence in the Great Lakes region.
The meeting called for more women economic empowerment initiatives for them to exercise their economic independence.
It was noted that women are still facing violence particularly in countries that are still torn apart by war such as DR Congo and Burundi.
Therese Ngijinama , the chairperson of COCAFEM/GL, said participants indicated there are still cases of violence against women and girls especially attributed to culture and traditional norms.
What the conference considered
Participants agreed that there are still laws that discriminate against women and low representation of women in state and non-state decision-making bodies at all levels, particularly in peace processes and in political parties, according to a statement.
“We noted low level of economic empowerment of women and girls and lack of regional and national databases on women’s skills in governance, conflict prevention, management and resolution, mediation and peacekeeping,” the statement reads.
The meeting urged countries without national action plans for the implementation of the Kampala Declaration and a timetable to facilitate the monitoring of the domestication process to formulate them.