10 July 2013 – Approximately 100 women, including four ministers from Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda are taking part in a regional conference in Bujumbura, Burundi, aimed to support the implementation of the "Framework of Hope" and Security Council Resolution 1325, an event organized by Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the NGO Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS).
In a statement at the opening ceremony, on Tuesday, Mary Robinson, considered it a "moment of great hope and expectation" in her vision for her mandate as Special Envoy. "From the beginning, I have wanted to do it differently, to work both top down with Heads of State of the 11 countries, and the four institutions that are guarantors of the PSC Framework of 24 February 2013, and bottom-up with the peoples of the Region who must be the real beneficiaries", she stressed, alluding to women's role.
"We are showing that women's leadership matters, and must be at the heart of the Framework of Hope", Mary Robinson added as she recalled some objectives of the regional conference including the establishment of a Donor's Group, which will commit to giving particular support through accessible funding to Women's Great Lakes Platform Projects. The "Framework of Hope" which is officially known as the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region was signed in February 2013 by 11 African countries.
As for President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza, who chaired the event, he stressed that women's participation in peace initiatives is a reality in the region and reminded ICGLR state members of mechanisms put in place to ensure that women's contribution regarding the respect and implementation of agreements signed by parties is taken into consideration.
For her part, France's First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler expressed solidarity towards Great Lakes Region women that are victim of violence. "In May I was invited by the UN for a meeting in Geneva on Human Rights focusing 'rape as a war weapon'. And today I am here with you with a simple message: violence against women must stop".
Mrs Trierweiler also called on international donors solidarity for the region, particularly for "children education, youth insertion and women support".
The Regional Conference on Women, Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region - Implementing the Framework of Hope and UNSCR 1325 ends Thursday.