UN Women's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa visits Burundi: assessment of gender developments and advocacy with key partners for gender equality
UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr. Maxime Houinato paid an official visit to Burundi from 20 to 26 February 2022. The objective of this visit, which took place only six months after his appointment began, was to assess women’s situation in Burundi, strengthen advocacy for gender equality and meet partners.
Meetings within the United Nations System in Burundi
The Regional Director met with the UN Resident Coordinator in Burundi, Mr. Damien Mama, the staff of UN Women Burundi, as well as country heads of UN agencies.
Mr. Mama and the Regional Director discussed UN Women’s new vision and the support of the country team to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment in Burundi. Discussions with the heads of UN agencies in Burundi focused on their work in the country, efforts to mainstream gender in operations and their collaboration with UN Women’s office. The Regional Director stressed the need for agencies to ensure gender is included and taken into account with the new development framework and positioning of GEWE. Integrating gender data into UN security briefings was suggested.
Audiences and meetings with key government partners/government institutions
Dr. Houinato with UN Resident Coordinator Damien Mama and UN Women Representative in Burundi Jennet Kem was received by First Lady of Burundi and President of OPDAD-Burundi, H.E. Angeline Ndayishimiye. He thanked her for her support for the UN Women Burundi office and her advocacy for women's transformational leadership in all sectors, including women's empowerment, health, family planning and the handling of Covid-19. Dr. Houinato particularly welcomed the First Lady's commitment to putting women at the center of fighting malnutrition.
With the Burundi’s ombudsman Eduard Nduwimana, discussions focused on how to promote effective participation of women in national conflict resolution mechanisms within actions carried out by his office and how to promote effective participation of women in national conflict resolution mechanisms.
Meetings were held with various ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender.
Minister of Communication, Information Technology and Media Léocadie Ndacayisaba thanked UN Women for its advocacy allowing Burundi to benefit from a fund implementing the 2nd phase of the Africa Girls Can Code (AGCCI) initiative.
At the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender discussions focused on the status of gender equality and women's empowerment and progress made by the ministry and its partners, notably through the establishment of the women's bank, the national action plan of resolution 1325, the national programme for women's economic empowerment.
Field visit and meetings with beneficiaries of UN Women-supported projects
As part of this visit, Dr. Houinato visited women of the ‘’Association des Femmes Actrices de Paix et de Dialogue’’ (AFAPD), supported by UN Women since its inception in 2014. The group of women peacebuilders gave testimony on the impact of their engagement at the community level.
The Regional Director also made a field visit to Gatumba to meet with beneficiaries of UN Women- supported projects. He was moved by the testimonies of women whose lives have been changed in the areas of peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution, and the economic resilience of the people of Burundi. He took advantage of this visit to hand out March 8 fabrics to 200 vulnerable people marking International Women's Day 2022.
Launch of projects financed by the Peacebuilding Fund and Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund
The Regional Director took part in the official launch ceremonies of projects financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund and Womens Peace and Humanitarian Fund in favor of women's leadership in peace building, humanitarian action, social cohesion, and resilience in Burundi. The launch workshop served as a framework for sharing information on the UNPBF and WPHF, the initiatives supported, and the results achieved on women's contribution to peace and security, humanitarian, resilience, social cohesion, and development.
Dr. Houinato met with ambassadors and representatives of African Union organisations. This was an opportunity for him to gain the perspectives of ambassadors present on the evolving political and socioeconomic context of the country; to share with them UN Women's strategy for Africa and perspectives in the new UN Women strategic plan; and to call on them to promote positive African values in favor of gender equality and women's empowerment.
Meeting with actors from civil society, the private sector, academia, political actors, youth and the media
Meetings focused on the evolution of the situation of women in Burundi in six points:
- the collaborative relationships between these different sectors,
- the place of youth,
- the systems of governance within these groups,
- the role of men in contributing to the progress of women and the nation,
- the role of the media.
TThe main recommendations were:
- to educate young girls to protect themselves and enhance self-esteem,
- to integrate women in the development and management of the Burundian economy,
- to eradicate all forms of violence against women,
- to conduct studies evaluating women’s situation in Burundi, the system of governance of women's organizations, the role of men in promoting the empowerment and progress of women, and the integration of women in finance,
- to make a strong sensitization of women, aimed at creating a real movement fighting for common interest, in order to strengthen solidarity among women,
- to establish umbrella organizations based on themes such as women's political participation, education, women's economic empowerment, the private sector, the finance sector, allowing for joint planning, the development of a common research plan, synergistic resource mobilization and joint implementation of activities,
- for women business managers to bring young people into the workplace by offering them internships in mentoring young girls.