Kigali declaration on Gender, Nation Building and the role of Parliament

23 Feb 2007

Background

As the country with the highest number of women legislators in the world, and on the auspicious occasion of its 10th anniversary, the Forum of Rwandan Women Parliamentarians (FFRP) organized a major international conference from 22 – 23 February 2007 on “Gender, Nation Building and the Role of Parliament”. Hosted by H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and honoured by the presence of the first ever African woman elected President, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia as chief guest, the international conference was attended by over 400 delegates – mostly Parliamentarians – from all over the world, as far away as the Cook Islands in the Pacific and as near as Burundi in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

The themes addressed during the conference included: Gender based violence as an obstacle to development, the correlation between sustainable human development and gender equality, the high cost of chaotic and unplanned urbanization, the need to integrate a gender perspective in international trade, the importance of gender analysis in informing policy and legislation, the critical role of partnerships with the private sector and civil society, and the need to pay particular attention to the situation of women in conflict and post-conflict contexts. It was noted that visionary and committed leadership at all levels underpins the achievement of equitable and sustainable development.

The objectives of the conference were to:

- Share experiences and best practices on the role of parliaments in promoting nation building through gender equality;
- Build parliamentary networks and partnerships in promoting development and gender equality;
- Build partnerships with development partners in the area of nation building;
- Consolidate the gains made over the past decade and elaborate strategies for further strengthening the contribution of women parliamentarians in the future.

The conference hailed the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the first African democratically elected woman President and resolved to give her full and unreserved support, and to reinforce solidarity with the people of Liberia, recognizing that her achievement is Africa’s achievement!

Cognizant of the centrality of gender equity to social, economic and political development and acknowledging the achievements to date, the delegates called upon:

Governments

1. To provide the framework and resources for national capacity development for nation building.
2. To set up mechanisms to increase the number of women in parliaments.
3. To strengthen the financial and technical capacities of national machineries and parliament for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
4. To undertake structured gender analysis and needs assessments in order to inform macroeconomic policy formulation and decision making.
5. To develop comprehensive policies and programmes aimed at providing access to financial and technical resources for women’s economic empowerment.
6. To provide a structure and mechanisms for gender equality oversight and accountability.
7. To ensure equality and equity in education.

Parliaments

1. To raise awareness in parliaments about the centrality of gender in development.
2. To review and repeal existing discriminatory laws, and to pass specific laws where none exist for the protection of rights, with particular reference to laws on inheritance and succession and gender-based violence.
3. To establish “Housing and Urban Development” committees in Parliament.
4. To provide Gender specialist staff in Parliaments.
5. To establish a monitoring mechanism with concrete indicators to track progress on the attainment of the goal of gender equality in all areas.
6. To seek to be informed on international trade issues for better negotiation capacity and informed decision-making.
7. To recognize the importance of international trade for the future of developing countries and design strategies for a positive conclusion to the Doha round of negotiations.
8. To advocate for the integration of gender perspectives in international trade negotiations and legislate the outcomes into national policy.
9. To reinforce partnerships and networks across parliaments for a common agenda.

Women Parliamentarians

1. To ensure that the increased numbers in parliaments translate into positive impact on legislation and benefits for women.
2. To scrutinize public expenditures and ensure that the allocation of resources is based upon a thorough assessment of the varying gender needs.
3. To set up internal mechanisms for assessment of the impact of their contribution to equitable social transformation


Civil Society

1. To undertake analysis and research on the reasons for persistent inequality in economic participation among men and women in order to inform policy for equitable economic empowerment.
2. To document best practices on the role of Parliament in promoting gender equality across Africa.

The UN and the International Community

1. To support overall national capacity development as an entry point for development.
2. To honor the Gleneagles commitment to increase financial flows for development.