NGOZI / KAYANZA / GITEGA March 14th (ABP) – Behavioral change, supporting victims and denouncing the GBV – these are some of the commitments made by participants in the workshops held in Ngozi (north) and in Kayanza (north) on Tuesday March 12 by the Synergy of Partners for the Promotion of Women’s Rights (SPPDF).

According to Marie Nduwimana, deputy delegate of the SPPDF, the Ngozi workshop attended by local elected women, peace mediators and solidarity groups aimed at lobbying and advocating for women community leaders to understand the importance of fighting against those cases of violence in order to help eradicate them. This is part of the celebration of the international month of March dedicated to the woman which will be celebrated in Ngozi province on Friday March 15 at Vyerwa stadium in Mwumba commune.

Other activities already carried out in Ngozi province include the organization of a regional workshop organized on March 11 and 12 by the Burundi Repatriated Women’s Association (AFRABU) in collaboration with the Association of Women Parliamentarians of Burundi (AFEPABU) on the development of the strategy to promote women’s participation in the 2020 electoral process and the keeping of peace and security. It is also a training workshop for magistrates and judicial police officers on the implementation of the new law on gender-based violence organized by the ministry responsible for human rights and the NGO Gender Health.

In Kayanza, the SPPDF met on Tuesday March 12th, 2019, with heads of provincial services working for the cause of women, women members of associations and women mediators of peace (Abakanguriramahoro) from all communes. During the exchange of ideas, those women raised their concerns including those related to the fact that the grassroots administrative officials comply with GBV perpetrators, a check by ABP revealed.

Some of the women leaders have, no doubt, indicated that cases of GBV have significantly dropped. The same goes for Facilitator Gaudence Ndayirorere, who pointed out that this reduction in cases of GBV is the result of a combination of efforts by the administrative officials, justice, as well as the 2016 presidential decree on the prevention and repression of GBV.

Despite this state of affairs, the participants in the meeting pointed out that there is still work to be done, because of the complacency of some grassroots administrative officials who do not bring to justice those who commit GBV, because of bribes promised or acquired or settlements out of court. Ms. Marie Goreth Nzeyimana, a woman leader from Bubezi village in Kayanza commune and province, as well as her peers, demand that administrative officials who are suspected of taking part in such acts be brought to justice.

For those who commit the GBV, especially violence made to women, Ms. Nzeyimana calls for exemplary punishments to achieve their eradication. Regarding women who do not dare to denounce the perpetrators of GBV, the woman leader and her colleagues ask the administration to increase sensitization meetings so that taciturn women change their mentality and denounce all those involved in those acts violating the women’s rights in particular and the citizens’ in general.

In Gitega (center), representatives of women local administrative leaders and women’s organizations such as the Collective of Associations and Women’s NGOs of Burundi (CAFOB) and the Family and Community Development Center (CDFC) told the check by ABP on Tuesday that women’s participation in decision-making bodies is making some progress but improvement is required, especially in local elective institutions and appointment positions. To achieve higher participation in decision-making bodies, those women leaders are committed to a broad campaign to raise women’s awareness for more active political participation in the 2020 elections.

The current state of affairs is that the representation of women in the quota of at least 30% prescribed by the Constitution in the higher elective bodies such as the National Assembly and the communal councils is respected in Gitega province, as affirmed by the CAFOB provincial representative, the CFDC coordinator and other women local administrative leaders. In the National Assembly, there are four women MPs out of 11, including one member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). In the communal councils, there are also four chairpersons out of 11. Four women also head Bugendana, Bukirasazi, Gishubi and Ryansoro communes out of 11 men. In the Senate, there is a parity of a woman Senator, the 1st Deputy President of the Senate, Ms. Spés-Caritas Njebarikanuye and a man.

Those women leaders, however, deplored the feminine representativeness that is still low in the village councils of that province. There are 28 women leaders of villages or neighborhoods out of 263 in total, they said. Among the major causes of that low representativeness, the women interviewed mentioned the fear of women being elected, linked in particular to their overload by household activities, cultural prejudices, the negative influences of some elected members compared with the woman leader of village.

Women leaders have thus committed themselves to ensuring a broad grassroots women’s mobilization campaign to elect and be elected. They also recommend the mutual support of women candidates or elected, said Marie-Rose Nzeyimana, leader of Mushasha neighborhood. She went on to reassure others that the administrative women are effectively performing their duties. She cited the case of the communal administrator of Bukirasazi, Ms. Suavis Habarugira, who had been rated at 100% during the evaluation of communal performance in 2018.

Women’s representativeness is also lower in public sector decision-making positions, with the exception of the justice sector, women leaders reported. In this sector, many women hold responsibilities, notably as general prosecutor at the Court of Appeal, chairperson of the High Court, chairperson of the Labor Court and chairpersons of the Courts of Residence of Gitega and Makebuko.

To achieve greater representativeness of women in other positions of appointments, women leaders recommended that those who prepare appointment proposition lists incorporate their names in the same way as men. They also urged women to be more competitive to improve their performance and surpass men’s performance if possible.

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