First step for the “Local Authorities Charter for Gender Equality in Africa”

12 July 2019

A group of gender equality experts and local elected representatives from Africa and Europe met on 4 July in Paris for the kick-off meeting of the “Local Authorities Charter for Gender Equality in Africa”. They were welcomed by Pierre Aidenbaum, Mayor of the 3rd District in Paris.

The contours and milestones of a multi-year cooperation between CEMR-PLATFORMA, UCLG Africa, the Network of Local Elected Women in Africa (REFELA) and UCLG were outlined during the meeting and a calendar of activities was adopted as a roadmap.

The group voted to adopt the name “Africa-Europe support Committee for the Charter” in order to reflect more accurately its mandate and function which is to accompany UCLG Africa/REFELA in the drafting process by organising forums for discussion and offering advice based on the experience with the European Charter for Equality.

Another working group, based in Africa and led by UCLG Africa and REFELA, will address the practical process of facilitating local debates about the content and form of the Charter as well as drawing up the text and a plan for its promotion among local authorities in Africa.

Achieving gender equality

Participants agreed that local governments in Africa and Europe shared common challenges and goals in terms of achieving gender equality. For this reason, common solutions — like this collaboration to draft an African Charter for local equality — should be pursued. The Chair of CEMR’s Standing Committee for Equality, Emil Broberg, emphasised that “CEMR wishes to strengthen its cooperation with UCLG Africa and the Network of Local Elected Women in Africa (REFELA) to respond to shared global challenges and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5. To have an effective charter, it is necessary to involve numerous actors and numerous means – in particular on the plurality of the actors who implement it.”

Elise Henriette Mboula Epse Essame, Vice-President of REFELA (Central Africa), Mayor of Nkongsamba 3-Cameroon (Cameroon) informed the group that “REFELA and UCLG Africa will be able to benefit from the European experience on this subject to advance faster. Africa is complex; every local woman elected from Africa should be included in this charter. We will need a document that is not too long but where every word will have its place, with all its weight. This will help move forward.”

Gunilla Westerberg-Dupuy, Deputy Mayor of Suresnes and President of the AFCCRE Gender Equality Committee also highlighted the importance of taking time to get the wording right in the Charter text: “At the time, when the Charter was created at the European level, everything had to be done from scratch. This was done in communities with discussions that centred around the vocabulary. The document must be anchored and shared by the people who create it.”

Mainstreaming the Charter

During the meeting, ideas were also exchanged on how to garner additional support for the project and to mainstream the Charter project into the work of UCLG Africa more broadly. For example, men within UCLG Africa’s leadership should be encouraged to participate in the project and women’s rights organisations in the region could be consulted and involved in the process.

The next major step in the drafting process will be an online consultation which aims to collect input from all relevant stakeholders in the regions of Africa (elected representatives, civil society, etc.). The consultation will be open from July to September.

The results will be compiled for analysis and will form the basis for the first outline of the Charter which will subsequently be presented in a session at the UCLG World Congress in Durban this November. To capitalise on the presence of many elected representatives from Africa and Europe in Durban, an informal working meeting of the Africa-Europe support Committee for the Charter may be organised on the side-lines of the World Congress.

In the meantime, keep an eye on our Twitter for a link to the online consultation in coming weeks!

Check the ongoing posts about the process on the CEMR Charter Observatory.

[Updtate 19/07/19] Click here to take part to the online consultation launched by UCLG Africa.

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