Global perspective Human stories

Women preparing for UN Great Lakes summit call for better rights protection

Women preparing for UN Great Lakes summit call for better rights protection

With women in Africa's Great Lakes region comprising both a regional majority and the more vulnerable group on many fronts, their representatives have called on governments in the area to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address gender-based crimes and other rights violations.

The delegates to the third and final Specialized Group Meeting, held in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday represented seven of the 11 countries participating in next month's International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, which was proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Present at the meeting were women from the host country, Rwanda, as well as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, according to the office of Mr. Annan's Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region.

Their recommendations called for legislation to protect and uphold the human rights and dignity of women and girls, concrete measures to find and punish perpetrators of such crimes against humanity as rape and other gender-based violence, and programmes to end ethnic prejudice and exclusion.

The meeting also wanted the Great Lakes Regional Women's Forum institutionalized to monitor the Conference process and to serve as an instrument for conflict resolution.

The two previous Specialized Group Meetings covered youth issues in Kampala, Uganda, and those related to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Arusha, Tanzania. The summit will take place in Tanzania next month.