Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Burundian women’s voices

It took almost four years for Burundian women’s voices to be heard in the peace process. In the first round of the negotiations, women were absent. Eventually, women were allowed in as observers but with no right to take part in the talks. However, when the negotiations began, women were prevented from entering the negotiating room. A breakthrough was reached when UNIFEM and the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation sponsored the All-Party Burundi’s women peace conference held 17–20 July 2000 in Arusha, Tanzania.

As requested, each of the 19 Burundi organisations represented at the peace negotiation sent two women delegates. More than 50 Burundi women and observers participated in the event. The women’s proposals were presented at a meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela, who was designated to replace the late Mwalimu Nyerere as facilitator for the Burundi peace negotiations. Among the steps of action requested were:

  •  a women’s charter to be included in the constitution 
  •  elimination of all laws that discriminated against women 
  •  special measures for women’s security l women’s right to land and inheritance 
  •  equal access to education for women and girls 
  •  an end to impunity for gender based war crimes, including domestic violence. 

All the women’s recommendations were accepted by the 19 parties and were integrated into the final peace accord, with the exception of a clause requesting a 30% quota to promote women’s representation at all decision making levels.
 Source: Rehn and Johnson Sirleaf (2002)

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