Kinshasa, DRC – The 19th Annual Conference of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of Central Africa (RFPAC) took place on 23 and 24 May 2016 in Kinshasa, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The conference tackled the theme of “Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Putting an end to violence against women and girls to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
Placing a particular focus on sexual and reproductive rights and the right to health, the conference centred around two targets of SDG5:
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual exploitation, a target which is is also central to eradicating poverty and realizing sustainable development, peace and security, and human rights;
- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as women have the right to live free of discrimination and violence, and to control and decide freely on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health. For this, they need access to essential information, education and services.
The RFPAC members heard from an array of speakers including Hon. Estelle Flore Angangou, the organisation’s President; Ms. Magda De Meyer, AWEPA Political Coordinator of the RFPAC Programme; Hon. Els Van Hoof, the programme’s Senior Political Advisor; and Hon. Aubin Minaku, President of the National Assembly of DRC; as well as representatives from various organisations active in the fields of women’s rights and women empowerment.
Participants had the chance to exchange experiences from their different countries within RFPAC and share best practices to reduce gender-based violence and guarantee access to healthcare.
Based on the information shared, the women parliamentarians of RFPAC made a list of recommendations in order to promote gender equality in their respective countries. The recommendations comprised legislative measures, implementation strategies and plans designed to promote coherent policy-making in the region, prevent gender-based violence on a national level and ensure that the necessary investigation, prosecution and procedural law mechanisms are in place to tackle gender-based violence, protect its victims and ensure access to healthcare.