UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, visited Cote d’Ivoire
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
During the 16 days, hundreds of events will bolster efforts to end a pandemic that impacts one in three women worldwide. In Cote d’Ivoire, the 16 Days has been marked with the launch of the HeForShe global solidarity movement in the country. HeForShe is about challenging the status quo and supporting transformative change for women, men, boys and girls. The President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, has officially announced his formal commitment to become an advocate and help mobilize men in Côte d’Ivoire to join the movement too. Violence against women and girls in the country is rising due to the advent of the socio-political crisis from September 2002 to April 2011. For instance, the National Coordination for Combating Gender-Based Violence reported 865 cases of violence in the first quarter of 2013, including 261 rapes. In addition, 33 percent of rapes in the country are committed on minors aged 10 to 18 years.
The Executive Director visited a UN Women project aiming to empower women farmers and helping them adapt to challenges posed by climate change, financed by the Government of Japan. The project provides women with trainings to improve the quality of shea butter that they produce, and support the processing and marketing of the product to position women farmers higher in the value chain. In collaboration with the Ministry of Women, UN Women’s support to the shea sector has benefitted more than 300 women across 12 cooperatives and 12 small and medium enterprises. The Executive Director’s visit also coincided with the inauguration of the Centre of Women Entrepreneurs of Cote d’Ivoire. This centre stimulates women’s entrepreneurship and promotes economic empowerment of women. Women beneficiaries will be trained to better manage their businesses, get greater economic benefit from their activities, and increase their visibility in the national, regional and international economic scene.
«This centre is a link between established and starting-up women entrepreneurs, and a chain of solidarity and coaching. It shows a great example of partnership between the UN, the Government, bilateral partners and civil society,» said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. Hiroshi Kawamura, the Ambassador of Japan in Cote d’Ivoire, added that he was «proud to see such a centre built in a short time, thanks to the strong involvement of all the actors in the project.»
Meeting with the civil society organizations
During a meeting with the civil society organizations (CSO), after praising the efforts of the Ivorian CSOs, which contributed to the end of the crisis and to increased understanding/mobilization of gender issues, the Executive Director underlined the instrumental role of CSO in deconstructing social norms. She raised the issue of fragmented approach and exhorted the Ivorian CSOs to solidarity and inclusiveness, with a special attention to young people, girls and boys. She urged the Ivorian CSOs to seize the opportunity of the “16 days “to raise awareness and mobilize public opinion on violence against women and to increasingly involve themselves in the fight. She presented the African Women Leaders Network initiative launched in New York in May 2017 and invited the Ivorian women’s leaders to join the network for the transformation of Côte d'Ivoire and Africa.
The Executive Director also announced the Priority theme of CSW62 (2018) that will take place at the UN in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018 : Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. She asked the CSOs to particularly support the adoption of the women’s participation bill, currently under examination by the government under the leadership of the Minister of Women, Child Protection and Solidarity. During the session, the Ivorian CSOs gave the Executive Director a document highlighting their concerns and recommendation on gender challenges in Côte d’Ivoire, including their need to be trained in the perspective of upcoming elections, and asked for her advocacy support in solving these issues.
Meeting women leaders
The discussion raised again the issue of collective and solidarity support for the promotion of gender, with particular focus on the law being currently drafted under the leadership of the Minister of Women, Child Protection and Solidarity in view to reinforce women's political participation by the end of 2017. Women leaders stressed out the need for accurate statistics, whether gender specific or disaggregated in order to be able to document their GEWE advocacy campaign. ED asked women leaders to use their position to help advance the cause of women, including coaching and mentoring young women and girls.
Meeting with the Civil Society Advisory Group
The Executive Director expressed her satisfaction of the diversity of the group and the commitment of its members who though recently inaugurated have already drafted and started implementing a national action plan with UN Women support. A remarkable initiative by the UN Women CSAG is the Imam of Fatima mosque of Grand Bassam, the sole mosque in the world to be named after a woman. It emphasized the instrumental and influential role of traditional and religious leaders in promoting GEWE at the national level and within communities. Considering themselves as key stakeholders in these processes, they presented, among other initiatives a training targeting kings and traditional chiefs aimed at involving them in promoting GEWE. The CSAG asked for continuous support in pursuing advocacy towards traditional chiefs and to launch the “traditional chief advocate for GEWE initiative", so as to showcase at the community level the benefit of improved women’s participation in development.
The President of Cote d’Ivoire officially a HeForShe advocate
The President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Dramane Ouattara, officially joined the HeForShe global solidarity movement in a ceremony marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. After receiving his HeForShe pin, the President pledged to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and to join efforts to end all forms of violence against women by 2020. UN Women Executive Director and many Ivorian personalities, including the Chancellor of the Republic, Ms. Henriette Diabaté and the Minister of Women, Protection of Childhood and Solidarity, Ms. Koné, were present.
The President also commended UN Women’s role in the country, especially in empowering rural women. Ms. Koné highlighted gender equality as a national priority, now enshrined in the new Ivorian constitution. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also held meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcel Amon-Tanoh; the President of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro; and the Prime Minister and Minister of Budget, Amadou Gon Coulibaly Marcel Amon-Tanoh. Discussions focused on the collaboration between the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and UN Women on issues of common interest in view of supporting the country’s efforts to advance the agenda.