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Women begin regional conference

A three-day meeting for women representatives in the Great Lakes region opened on Thursday in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, as part of a preparatory process for an international conference on the region, sponsored by the UN and the African Union (AU). In a statement issued on Wednesday, the office of Ibrahima Fall, the UN Special Representative to the Great Lakes region, said the women's representatives were expected to come up with recommendations to be presented to regional heads for endorsement when they meet in November for the first of two summits in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Participants at the Kigali meeting are from the "core" countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region. Each country has 10 representatives. The countries are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Fall's office said that although Angola, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Sudan recently joined the regional initiative as core members, they were not represented at the Kigali meeting. "The women’s assembly is the third and last of the specialised group meetings to be held before the heads of state summit," Fall's office said. The first was a youth meeting in Kampala, Uganda, that was followed by a regional NGOs' meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, two weeks ago. The women's representatives are due to base their discussions on regional views on the themes of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region. These themes are peace and security; democracy and good governance; economic development and regional integration; and humanitarian and social issues. Fall's office said prior to the Kigali meeting, the women's representatives held a series of national meetings, consultations and workshops during which they charted national visions on the themes of the international conference. "It is these national views that they are expected to streamline and harmonise so that they could form a solid regional vision that would be put forward to the heads of state," Fall's office said. It said the UN Development Fund for Women had been pivotal in coordinating the activities of the women in the various countries and that sponsorship for the participants was largely by a group of 28 countries and several international organisations, known as the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes region. Canada and The Netherlands co-chair the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes region. Representatives from the UN lead agencies for the international Great Lakes conference are attending the Kigali meeting, where South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamani-Zuma is invited as the chief guest. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed the international conference for peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region. Its objective is to find a lasting solution to the multiple and endemic problems facing the region.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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