An expert’s meeting that ended in Kigali yesterday concluded with a unilateral call for the enhancement of women’s participation in electoral processes in Africa.
Over the past two days, about 61 participants drawn from 22 African countries, organs of the African Union, United Nations agencies, and regional blocs, have been engaged in a dialogue on how to manage diversity as well as ensure gender equality in political participation.
Speaking at the closure of the event, Aurelien A. Agbenonci, UN Resident Coordinator to Rwanda, said that it was possible to use elections as a vehicle towards the promotion of gender equality and effectively manage diversity.
He cited Rwanda’s use of the party-list and a proportional representation system combined with gender quotas as good practices worth emulating.
Participants also concurred that the achievement of gender equality is a pre-condition of inclusive democratisation and sustainable development in Africa.
Speaking at the end of the conference, Oda Gasinzigwa, said that political will is a key factor in the promotion of gender equality.
“This has been and continues to be the main strength in our country. Where political will exists, necessary measures need to be put in place to translate such political will into tangible results,” she added.
Gasinzigwa also highlighted the importance of financing gender equality through initiatives such as gender responsive budgeting.
She noted that gender equality and empowerment constitutes a core element of managing diversity in the democratic process.
According to Joseph Chilengi from the AU, changes that will translate into gender equality require coordinated and synergised action at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.
He stressed the role of the African Union and its organs, including the regional economic communities, in ensuring that African countries ratify, domesticate and implement agreed commitments on gender equality.
The meeting is a precursor to the Eighth Africa Governance Forum that will take place in 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.