In the early 2000s, AWEPA facilitated the organisation of a number of meetings for women parliamentarians. As a result, the women parliamentarians of Central Africa gradually increased their cooperation and, in March 2002, created the Network of Women Parliamentarians of Central Africa (RFPAC), an all-women parliamentary platform.
RFPAC, whose activities are facilitated by both its member parliaments and AWEPA, is an all-women group of parliamentarians delegated by their respective institutions. The member countries of RFPAC are Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad.
The RFPAC statutes assimilate key statements including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
RFPAC strives to empower women and improve their access to positions of responsibility. To this end, the network carries out in-depth reflection on the challenges faced by women politicians and the steps necessary to tackle these challenges with the objective of helping women in general – and women parliamentarians in particular – to contribute to the development of their society.
RFPAC’s specific objective include:
- To engage women parliamentarians in talks on the research into the causes of south-south and south-north migration;
- To highlight the key aspects of effective legislation to protect women and girls against child marriage and its consequences.
Example of activities
During 2015, RFPAC and AWEPA worked together to organise a conference on role of parliamentarians in fighting violence against women and the protection of vulnerable women. This topic was chosen in response to statistics showing that 16 million girls aged between 15 and 19, and almost one million girls aged 14 or less, give birth every year. The majority of these girls live in Africa, in low- and middle-income countries.
During the conference, the women parliamentarians of RFPAC made a list of recommendations in order to prevent child marriage and early pregnancies in their respective countries. The recommendations comprised legislative measures (laws that guarantee 18 as the minimum legal age of marriage for both boys and girls), as well as implementation strategies (national monitoring, raising awareness) and plans regarding the allocation of appropriate technical, financial and human resources
The conference was attended by the Gabonese authorities as a result of significant efforts to reach all sectors of the Gabonese population. In addition, the delegates from the other member parliaments passed on the strong recommendations adopted regarding legal harmonisation on their return to the countries whose parliaments are members of RFPAC. The Gabonese Ministers present made a commitment to work with other parliamentarians to ensure that the Gabonese law contributes to the fight against violence against women and to the protection of vulnerable women.