afrol News, 30 January - Burundian women and the internaitonal community have been lobbying intensely for several years to assure women's political participation in Burundi. Earlier this month, 16 elected women to the Burundian Parliament were harvested as the outcome of these efforts.
Sixteen women were elected to Burundi’s Transitional Assembly earlier this month. The elected women were candidates from 14 political parties and members of civil society, according to the UN gender agency UNIFEM.
- The elections come after intense years of lobbying by the women of Burundi, supported by UNIFEM and other partners, for the inclusion of women in decision-making and their participation in the Burundi peace process, the UN agency notes.
In July 2000, UNIFEM’s briefing to Burundi’s 19 negotiating parties made possible the first All Party Burundi Women’s Peace Conference. As a result of the Peace Conference, twenty-three of the women’s recommendations to protect and promote women’s rights were included in the final peace accord.
Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, in her last report complained about a poor representation of women at decision-making levels before the elections. The main obstacles to this were tradition and lack of education.
The equality of men and women was legislatively ensured in Burundi. The Burundian government has however admitted it takes "time to change attitudes." War was the main reason for the poor progress.
Women in Burundi still face large-scale legal and societal discrimination, according to a report by the US government. "Explicitly discriminatory inheritance laws and credit practices continued."
By law women must receive the same pay as men for the same work, but in practice they do not. Women are far less likely to hold mid-level or high-level positions. In rural areas, women traditionally perform hard farm work, marry and have children at an early age, and have fewer opportunities for education than men, the US report holds.
Sources: Based on
UN sources, US govt. and afrol archives