In the Rwandan capital, a meeting is underway to increase women?s participation in rebuilding countries following conflict in the Great Lakes Region.

UNIFEM and the World Bank are hosting the meeting in Kigali on demobilization and reintegration programs. Representatives from seven countries are taking part, including women ex-combatants.

Dr. Josephine Odera is UNIFEM?s regional program director.  From Kigali, she spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the reasons for the conference.

She says, ?As you know the Great Lakes Region has been the site of a number of conflicts. And our particular concern in these conflicts is the extent to which women have been involved and have been affected by the conflicts. And when the Multi-country Demobilization and Reintegration Program of the World Bank was set up we were excited because we felt it would address issues of gender?But we recognize that hadn?t been done. And so out of consultations we are looking at how to bring a gender perspective to strengthen the Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program.?

Some of the major issues, she says, include ?security in conflict situations, especially when you consider that issues like rape are used as weapons of war. Economic security, which is directly linked to issues of demobilization.?