Consultative meetings explore ways of how women in the Great Lakes region can become agents of change in the face of COVID-19 

28 Jul 2020

Consultative meetings explore ways of how women in the Great Lakes region can become agents of change in the face of COVID-19 

Nairobi, 28 July 2020 – The Office of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region convened virtual consultations with women entrepreneurs, business leaders, experts and regional stakeholders to explore ways of how women can be agents of change for socio-economic transformation in the face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The consultations, under the theme “Women as Agents of Change for Socioeconomic Transformation”, also discussed the economic downturn experienced by women-owned businesses in the Great Lakes region. 

The meeting saw the participation of Mr. Huang Xia, United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region; Dr. Mama Keita, Director, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, East Africa Office; Dr. Amany Asfour, World President, International Federation for Business and Professional Women; Mr. Joseph Lititiyo, Deputy Executive Secretary, Economic Community for the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL); Ms. Nnenna Nwabufo, Regional Director, African Development Bank; as well as high-level representatives of government institutions, private sector businesses, and civil society organizations. 

In his keynote address, Special Envoy Xia underscored the importance of the role of women in economic development. “If the private sector is the engine of growth, women are, for their part, the engine of development in the Great Lakes region. Consequently, their economic empowerment is essential,” the UN Envoy said. “To promote female entrepreneurship, priority must be given to developing initiatives in favor of gender equality,” he added.

Attendees brainstormed on ways to mobilize women for a full and effective participation in the Great Lakes Investment and Trade Conference scheduled for December 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda. This conference is a high-level regional economic event, which will bring together over 700 economic and political experts to debate about trade and cross-border investment in the region.  

The participants in today’s consultations also acknowledged the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in the Great Lakes region, which adversely affects women in their endeavors to emerge into more prominent roles in the social, economic and political aspects of life. They cited governments’ efforts to contain the pandemic through lockdowns as a major impediment to the economic sector where women represent a major force. Such measures have, for example, affected the agribusiness supply chain mostly controlled by women.  

In addition to today’s discussions, the consultations will include two other sessions namely on “Effective Measures to Guarantee Women’s Meaningful Political Participation and their Contribution in Peacebuilding”, which will take place on 4 August 2020; and “Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and their Protection” planned for 11 August 2020.  

These virtual consultations are held as the United Nations marks this year the 20th anniversary of the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security, which stresses the critical role of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, as well as the importance of ensuring their full and equal participation in security and peacemaking efforts.