Lack of employment opportunities and under-representation are some of the major setbacks for the advancement of women within African local authorities, experts told Africa’s premier local authorities gathering on Tuesday.
At the Fourth Africities Summit, a long serving Kenyan legislator and gender activist of international standing, Ms. Phoebe Asiyo set the stage when she said local authorities had not achieved much in the area of gender equality.
Addressing a Gender Equality Thematic Session, she said: “Women lack employment and they are under-represented in local authoritoes across Africa,” she said adding that even the few women elected were often not in the loop when important decisions are made.
Some delegates openly lambasted men saying that they were hindering women’s leadership aspirations in African local authorities.
“First, you have to consult your husband, your family and your community when you want to vie for a seat in the local government. If by luck you make, it then you will spend the rest of your term being harassed sexually and being isolated when it comes to making decisions,” one of the delegates said to loud applause and cheers.
The theme of the Fourth Africities Summit (18-24 September) is: “Building Local Coalitions for the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in African Local Governments." It is well reflected in an exhibition at which the public sector, private businesses, local government suppliers and others, like UN-HABITAT, are showcasing their products, services and latest technological advances.
The UN-HABITAT stand drew hundreds of people interested in learning more about the agency and the solutions it proposes for dealing with problems in a continent where 72 percent of the growing urban populations live in slums. Gender equality in all spheres, good governance, decent water and sanitation, land management and legislation are some of the themes UN-HABITAT experts are addressing at a series of Africities seminars this week.