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AU Civil Society Forums Conclude in Banjul, Gambia

The African Union (AU) will hold its seventh annual Summit of Heads of State on July 1st and 2nd in the Gambian capital, Banjul. This year’s summit theme is “Rationalization of the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Integration.” Wednesday, the AU Civil Society Forum concluded its pre-summit meeting with suggestions for the African leaders. A pre-summit women’s forum also convenes Thursday in Banjul.

Hannah Forster is executive director of the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies. She shared some details of the meeting with Voice of America English to Africa reporter James Butty.

“Various issues have been raised in relation with human rights as well as economic integration. We also wanted to call the attention of the heads of state that not many of its people know about its existence and the services it offers in terms of its organs and everything related to the AU. So we are urging them to put in place a public relations or an organ that would be spreading the news about what it stands for…”

Hannah says the purpose of Thursday’s pre-summit women’s forum was to examine gender issues, to discuss governance in countries emerging from armed conflicts, to propose strategies aimed at reducing the impact of conflict on women, and to lay the foundation for gender-sensitive and women-inclusive governance. She says African women want more participation in governance.

“As you are aware, if you look at the protocol on the rights of women, it also does make provisions on the rights of women. So we would want to see it being implemented in terms of involving more women in the peace process because we all do know that they are the ones who suffer in terms of conflict. And they should be part of the solution.”

Hannah says the outcome of the meeting would be conveyed to the AU heads of state for their attention.

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