Third Regional Conference on African Women in Political Leadership
Since 2009, FEMNET has convened an annual Regional Conference for African Women in Political Leadership to enhance networking and the quality of women’s leadership. This report documents the proceedings of the third such conference, held in Nairobi at the end of August 2011, which convened 65 participants from across 15 countries (Kenya, Zambia, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Egypt, Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, DRC, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Tunisia). All of these countries were had general elections in 2010–2012.
The conference had three main objectives: conceptualise a funding framework for women in politics and governance; deliberate support mechanisms for women in politics at national, regional and international levels; and share best practices and attempts to influence the culture and agenda-setting practices in institutions of democracy, such as parliaments and local government.
The Conference combined expert panel presentations, plenary and group discussions, a public forum discussing issues pertinent to women’s leadership, specifically on issues around the African Women’s Decade (2010–2020), and more. Among the topics discussed were:
- Women leaders’ influence on the functionings of parliament, the tendency for parliamentary procedures to discriminate against women, and cross-country experiences shared by attending women MPs.
- The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and how this instrument comprehensively outlines the African Union’s commitment to the consolidation of democratic governance as well as enshrining gender equality principles.
- Networking, in terms of its ability to enhance performance, along with some of its challenges. It emerged that effective regional and global networks can provide crucial support to women in politics.
- Women from different generations in political leadership roles; the conference proposed that FEMNET create an inter-generational dialogue and network for women in political leadership.
- The need for complementarity, as well as the need to embrace the values of diversity and tolerance between young and older women.
The conference also reviewed, and made inputs to, the Proposed Framework of the African Women’s Democracy Fund, and heard an insightful account of the experience of the Nigeria Women’s Fund. Finally, the conference resolved to form a Working Group to fine-tune the Proposed Framework, and FEMNET was urged to continue to play a facilitative and catalytic role for the establishment of the Fund, including facilitating the Working Group.
[adapted from source]