Located in the Great Lakes region, Burundi is a small land-locked country, with very few natural resources. 90% of its nine million inhabitants live in rural areas. Women play a major role in Burundi's national economy and represent 55.2% of the workforce. Women are particularly active in the agricultural sector which provides 90% of food production and 90% of the country's export.
Burundi's Constitutions provides for a 30% quota of women in the Government, National Assembly and Senate which favors women's political participation. The Country has made significant progress in the representation of women in electoral decision-making positions in 2010. Despite these improvements, women are still facing numerous challenges.
Among the challenges, Gender-Based Violence against women and girls - VAWG is still an endemic problem in the country; women and young girls are daily victims of all forms of violence and most of the victims don't report the abuses. UN Women is mandated to work with the government and all stakeholders to improve gender equality and women empowerment in Burundi.
Women’s participation and leadership
We endeavor to increase women's level of representation in electoral and non-electoral positions and improve their capacities to influence decisions. We also support Public Administration to develop and implement a strategy that promote women's participation in decision-making positions in order to influence policies and strategies. Our country office in Burundi works to train women who hold elective and non-elective decisions-making positions in gender issues and transformative leadership as well as in negotiation lobbying and advocacy practices.
To improve and foster transformative leadership abilities for both women and men, the governance and political participation program has established a partnership with the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office and the Kenyatta University through the Africa Centre for Transformative and inclusive Leadership - ACTIL.
We work as well with community-based organizations to support the integration of gender issues into community-based management mechanisms in order to promote the participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms.
We focus on strengthening women’s association’s networks to improve productivity and diversification of women and enhance their technical, organizational and managerial skills so as to enable them to develop new profit-generating activities and to use networking to get information on markets’ opportunities. We also work to improve the access to productive resources such as land an loans for women living in rural and suburban areas in order to contribute to the creation of a conducive environment (legislative and institutional) for women's access to resources.
The Country Office aims at enhancing the capacities of civil society organizations so as to enable them to advocate for women’s access to resources and financial services. We encourage women to form associations so as to gain better access to financial services and to develop a corporate mindset.
Fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
We work to support advocacy work to review specific laws related to the prosecution of Violence against Women and Girls - VAWGs crimes in Burundi as well as to strengthen the capacities of police and justice. We contribute to improving the skills of the staff in charge of assisting VAWG survivors particularly in the provision of psychological support and the sensitization of criminals; and towards strengthening women’s mediation skills so as to address the issue of domestic violence. Equally, we develop specific mechanisms to assist conflict-affected women, including refugees, repatriated and IDPs so as to protect them from VAWG.
Community-based beliefs, attitudes and behavior towards VAWG are observed to be positively changing. We support Innovative initiatives (community networks, pilot zones of zero tolerance towards VAWGs) to promote community-based response. We organize sensitization campaigns with the support of the UN Secretary-General's UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. We work to enhance the coordination of joint programs on VAWGs within the UN system and to contribute to strengthening the capacities of the Ministry of Gender.
Enhancing women’s rights
We work to ensure that national gender policies and strategies are taken into consideration in the development and implementation of national programmes by supporting the Burundi government in ratifying international treaties on women’s rights and gender equality as well as issuing laws promoting gender equality.
We also support the government in implementing and sensitizing the population on these ratified protocols and in emphasizing on the implementation of existing laws protecting or promoting women. We ensure that National Gender Policy and the action plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is being integrated into national, sectorial and local development programmes; as well as other resolutions.
We support initiatives allowing traditional beliefs and practices to be more favorable to women and improving women’s status within their communities and families. We focus on strengthening the capacities of community leaders, hill leaders and bashingantahe (traditional leaders), to integrate gender equality principles into the resolution of disputes occurring in the community.