Great Lakes countries urged to tackle low representation of women in electoral processes

Great Lakes Region
Great Lakes Region Image: Addiction Campuses

Countries in the Great Lakes region have been urged to promote the participation, representation and protection of women in electoral processes.

This came during a high-level regional workshop that was held under the theme “Participation, Representation and Protection of Women in Electoral Processes in the Great Lakes Region” that was jointly organized by the African Union (AU) in partnership with the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The two-day gathering, which was held in light of forthcoming elections in the Great Lakes region, mainly “called for the need to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation,” according to the meeting outcome statement released by the AU on Friday.

Participants attending the regional meeting also noted that the progress on women’s representation in elective and appointed positions has been slow, in which women’s share in lower houses’ of parliament is presently stood at 24.3 percent on average.

“This situation falls short of the gender balance requirements highlighted in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As of January 1, 2019, only 6.6 percent of Heads of State and 5.2 percent of Heads of Government were women,” the joint meeting outcome statement read.

According to the AU, compared to the global figures, in the Great Lakes Region, the situation of women representation in parliaments is encouraging, with an average of 27 percent.

The regional workshop, among other things, envisaged “to provide a platform to discuss the low participation of women in electoral processes and its root causes, as well as the protection of women’s rights throughout the electoral cycle.”

It also highlighted some of the “preventive and capacity strengthening measures to achieve the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in electoral processes.”

The meeting, which came as three of the AU member states from Great Lakes region that are Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR) and Tanzania set to conduct elections in 2020, also urged the countries to guarantee the protection and participation of women in the forthcoming elections.

Participants attending the regional meeting also called on the AU, UN, ICGLR and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) “to pursue joint initiatives to promote an inclusive electoral process that guarantees the rights of women in these countries,” according to the joint meeting outcome statement. Enditem

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