International Women’s Day

IWD Celebrations in Burundi: Women at the center of innovative social protection programmes

Date: Monday, March 11, 2019

Photo: UN Women Burundi/ Cynthia Kimana
First Lady of Burundi, H.E. Denise NKURUNZIZA, leads the IWD celebrations. Photo: UN Women Burundi/ Cynthia Kimana

On March 08, 2019, Burundi celebrated the International Women's Day.  The ceremonies took place in the province of Gitega, political capital under the patronage of H.E. Denise NKURUNZIZA, the First Lady of the Country.  In her special address, the First Lady thanked the Government of Burundi for the programs already initiated to ensure the social protection of the population including free health care for pregnant women and children under five years of age and school safety for primary school pupils. The first lady called for respect within the home and mutual assistance as the hallmark within families. The message of women’s role in peacebuilding was emphasized, ‘Women have a duty to contribute to peacebuilding and it must be at the center of the struggle for peace’ she remarked.

The National Women's Forum's advocacy for an improvement in the status of women focused on increasing women's representation in elected positions in the 2020 elections and in all sectors of life and supporting women towards achieving their economic empowerment. On behalf of the FNF Representation, Dr Janvière NDIRAHISHA reminded all women of their role and involvement in peacebuilding, in the promotion of formal education, and in the fight against corruption for sustainable and inclusive development.

Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Mr Martin NIVYABANDI stated that "Women are good managers and it is only by putting them at the center of actions that progress will be achieved. Savings cooperatives among women are a way to extend and increase the social protection of the most vulnerable". His message thanked women's efforts in governance, and local security. He called on all women for effective leadership wherever they are for a more powerful impact on the lives of other women and called for the involvement and actions of religious leaders in promoting women's rights in communities.

On behalf of the United Nations System in Burundi, on behalf of the Resident Coordinator, Ms Jennet KEM, UN Women Burundi Country Representative, in her remarks articulated that "Social protection calls on States to make a commitment to provide a minimum level of services for the well-being of its population; and is therefore not an act of charity. It calls on leaders to set up systems to support disaster victims, the poor, mitigate the impact of disease on families, support people with disabilities, the unemployed, retirees, the elderly, among other vulnerable groups. The aim is to minimize suffering and poverty by ensuring a minimum level of well-being for the population.”

Photo: UN Women Burundi/ Cynthia Kimana
Photo: UN Women Burundi/ Cynthia Kimana

While recalling the support of the United Nations System to the Government in the implementation of the social protection strategy to combat poverty and social and economic vulnerability, Ms Jennet KEM called for better social protection for women and girls, by valuing women's unpaid work; improving women's representation in decision-making bodies and strengthening the integration of gender and children's, people living with HIV and older people's issues into national policies and programs.

The ceremony was attended by the country's senior officials: parliamentarians, ministers, senior officials from various government sectors, members of National Commissions, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of United Nations system agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, women from women's groups, civil society organizations, different religions, and women from communities from all provinces of the country.

The ceremonies were marked by the presentation of the prizes including; an award to the First Lady of Burundi, a symbol of a "Woman of Destiny" ;a certificate of honor awarded by the Women's Forum to the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Martin NIVYABANDI, in recognition of his work in promoting women's rights and certificate of honor to the women and men who have served as role models in their daily activities.

As a sign of solidarity and mutual invitation to work for peace and peaceful coexistence in Burundi, the First Lady of Burundi and other women leaders from the Government, Parliament and the National Women's Forum released doves into the air, signifying the country’s wish for peace to prevail, especially during and after the upcoming election period.