Lisa Bardot from CCRE-CEMR, further presented the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life which was signed by more than 1 730 stakeholders, cities and local governments from 35 countries, as well as the Observatory of this Charter, a tool aiming at identifying signatories of the Charter, action plans and good practices in the field of gender equality in local life, in order to facilitate exchanges between signatories and to encourage the development of decentralized cooperation and twinning projects in this field. She placed the focus on the need to have a criteria for normalization, such as the control and monitoring of wage and salary gaps, the establishment of quotas, or the access to equal opportunities.
Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of the European regional section of UCLG (CCRE-CEMR), insisted on the fact that “the European Charter for Equality is an agenda that promotes equality between women and men, and that men, as women do, have an essential part in pursuing this goal”, and should play an active role in achieving this equality. He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda, SDG 5 and the conditions for equality couldn’t be achieved without inclusive policies addressed to all people, including both women and men, and that gender sensitive policies have to be transversal to all other policy areas.
Following, Diane Osso Mbango, from REFELA Congo-Brazzaville, acknowledged that the creation of sub-regional or subnational networks such as REFELA, allows local women leaders to unify in solidarity and to strengthen the networking processes between them, allowing them to access and take part in the international debates focusing on gender equality, and to gain visibility in the global debates on sustainable urban development at the global level. She also mentioned the importance of developing education, training and capacity-building opportunities for girls and women, in order to create the conditions that would raise the ownership of the promotion of women in decision-making by both women and men.
Mayor of Tunis Souad Abbderahim, who was recently appointed and is the first woman Mayor of the City in more than 160 years, talked about her experience in accessing to this high level position, and explained how “it is fundamental to acknowledge the achievements of women at high level decision making positions, not only to make them visible but also to help mindsets – often led and set by men – change”. She highlighted the lack of recognition of women inputs in the way of thinking, planning and implementing political changes and sustainable development. She also made reference to the fact that “women’s strength, action and capacity still have to be proven today” and that “militancy, the acknowledgment of rights and freedoms, the involvement of men, the action of civil society and legislative norms are essential conditions of equality between women and men”.
The audience also played a key part in this session since many interesting and constructive exchanges happened, among which the intervention of the former President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, who encouraged her fellow colleagues to share and make visible their experiences as leaders, mayors and elected women, in order to inspire contemporary and future generations, and to valorize women perspectives in the political sphere. Other issues were raised, including the need to rethink legislation frameworks with the aim of making them gender-sensitive; the importance of gender mainstreaming, not