GABON/ECCAS: UNOCA supports the High-Level Conference on the Advancement and Empowerment of Women

25 May 2023

GABON/ECCAS: UNOCA supports the High-Level Conference on the Advancement and Empowerment of Women

The Conference of Ministers in charge of Gender and the Advancement of Women of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) began on 25 May in Libreville, Gabon, under the theme "Building a Common Agenda for the Promotion of Women's Rights and their Empowerment in Central Africa.” The three-day event is organized by ECCAS and the Gabonese Republic, under the high patronage of Ms. Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of Gabon, and in partnership with the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), UN Women and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The opening ceremony of the Conference was marked by speeches by the Regional Director of UN Women for West and Central Africa, Ms. Florence Raes, the Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of UNOCA, Mr. Abdou Abarry, the President of the ECCAS Commission, Mr. Gilberto Da Piedade Veríssimo, the Minister of Justice Keeper of the Seals in charge of Human Rights and Gender Equality of Gabon, Ms. Erlyne Antonela Ndembet Damas, and the opening remarks of the First Lady of the Gabonese Republic, Ms. Sylvia Bongo Ondimba.

A new gender equality dynamic

In his speech, Special Representative Abdou Abarry thanked and congratulated the Government of Gabon for hosting the Conference aimed at giving a new momentum to gender equality in the Central African sub-region. He also appreciated the good collaboration between all partner organizations in the planning of the Conference, for a better representation and participation of women at all levels of socio-economic and political life in Central Africa.

“I am pleased to see that undeniable progress has been made in this sub-region in terms of gender equality. UNOCA stands ready to support these efforts, in close coordination with UN Women, ECCAS and its Member States, in particular for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security”, underlined Mr. Abarry.

The importance of including women in political processes

The Head of UNOCA also underlined the importance of the inclusion of women in political and peace processes in Central Africa, in line with the new vision of ECCAS in which women play a strategically important role. This vision is further exemplified by the creation of the Network of Women Mediators of ECCAS (REFEMAC) which UNOCA has supported, in line with its mandate. In addition, Mr. Abarry underlined that this vision is illustrated by efforts to involve women in the regulation of cross-border issues, in particular through the organization of the Annual Cross-Border Fair of Central Africa (FOTRAC), which aims to strengthen socio-economic development and mobilizes many women within the framework of free trade and the free movement of people and goods.

The Conference presents the opportunity for sustained advocacy in the implementation of policies and programs related to ​​gender equality, and for reinforced actions for the promotion of women's rights and their empowerment. It brings together 150 participants - representatives of governments, civil society, journalists, academics, religious and customary leaders, as well as representatives of UN entities. Exchanges are structured in sessions emphasizing the functioning of national institutional mechanisms intended to promote the advancement of women. A panel is dedicated to dialogue on the participation of women in public and political governance, and in peace and security mechanisms in Central Africa. A "Declaration on the Common Agenda on priority actions for the promotion of women's rights and their empowerment" will be adopted at the end of the sessions on 27 May.