Date: 15 April 2010
Bujumbura — UNIFEM supported a four-day regional conference on the political participation of women and non-violence in elections, which brought together a hundred representatives of civil society, parliaments and government ministries from eleven African countries in Bujumbura, Burundi on 12-15 April. The meeting concluded with the adoption of a declaration, providing recommendations to advance the role of women as political actors and agents of peace during election periods.
Participants came from Benin, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The conference was organized by the Coalition for the Promotion of Women’s Rights (SPPDF) and the Burundian Ministry of People’s Rights and Gender, with the support of UNIFEM, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Action Aid and Oxfam NOVIB.
The first two days of the conference focused on the exchange of experiences on women’s political participation and the role women play in conflict prevention and resolution. Participants analyzed why some African countries have experienced electoral violence while others have not, and which lessons could be drawn upon in coming elections in the region. A special focus was on Burundi, where legislative and presidential elections will be held in June and July.
During the final two days, the participants deepened their knowledge on methods and approaches to promote peaceful elections. At the end of the conference, a group of women met with representatives from political parties, the electoral commission and the Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi, to present the declaration. The recommendations included that the number of women candidates in elections must increase, and that measures must be taken to prevent violence during electoral processes, for example by supporting the role of women in early warning and the collaboration of women with traditional chiefs.
For more information, please contact Ana Andreetti, UNIFEM Burundi, ana.andreetti[at]unifem.org.