The African Union (AU) should set up a continental programme which will assist major national political parties in countries across Africa about how to include women in their structures, participants at a dialogue on women resolved yesterday.
Held under the auspices of the African Union and the Government of Rwanda, the two-day fourth African Union High-Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance ended in Kigali yesterday with a focus on involving women in political processes, especially by enhancing their participation in the management of political parties in countries across the continent.
It was agreed at the end of the conference that political parties across the continent should set up policies that make it mandatory for women to occupy positions of power in their ranks, while also empowering them with skills needed to fully participate in national governance.
The African Union director for political affairs, Dr Khabele Matlosa, said the AU be set up a continental programme to advise political parties on how they can have gender-sensitive governance structures.
"The AU Commission will work with other partners to help national political parties promote the inclusion of women in political party structures," he said.
Matlosa later explained in an interview with The New Times that the continental programme will assist political parties on the continent on making their laws and policies gender sensitive, placing women in positions of leadership, and introducing quotas for women's leadership positions.
Learning from best practices
Matlosa also said the continental programme will encourage leaders in certain countries across Africa to learn from best practices found in some other countries on the continent about empowering women.
"After such successful discussions from the meeting here, what remains is the implementation of the ideas," he said.
During the meeting, several officials emphasised that women in Africa need to be more involved in the governance of their countries if the continent is to achieve its targeted socio-economic development in the next 50 years.
Under the AU's Agenda 2063-a plan and roadmap for development in Africa over the next 50 years since 2013- African Heads of State and Government are urged to ensure that women occupy 50 per cent of elected public offices and half of the managerial positions in both the public and private sector by 2063.
The agenda envisages that the full and active participation of women in public and private sector will further accelerate the attainment of various national development agendas as well as regional and continental milestones for development.
Most participants at the meeting urged leaders in Africa to turn the focus on actions to ensure that women are included in political processes so that the targets set up under Agenda 2063 are achieved without necessarily waiting for 50 years.
"The onus is on member states of the AU, political parties, the private sector, the civil society, and individual people to turn words into action," said Amb. Fatuma Ndangiza, deputy chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board.