- 29 November, 2016: The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare is organising a series of five regional capacity building programmes for female councillors of both Municipal and District Councils. The aim is to enable participants to articulate gender issues at the level of their respective Constituencies/regions, and ensure that women’s strategic needs are taken into consideration while devising gender sensitive policies and programmes at the Municipal and/or Village Council levels. Over 300 women councillors are expected to benefit from the programme.
The first leg of the programme kicked off this morning at the Municipal Council of Port Louis for some 41 women municipal councillors in the presence of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Marie-Aurore Perraud, and the Minister of Local Government, Dr Mohammad Anwar Husnoo. The other four sessions will be held as from January 2017, and will target some 273 village councillors of the District Councils.
In her address, Minister Perraud highlighted the crucial role that women councillors can play in their respective Councils. Research indicates that women-led councils are responsible for considerable gains at the local level, and deliver much-needed public services more effectively, whether on environment issues or education, by targeting public resources to benefit the community, she said.
The Minister however deplored that elected women councillors continue to show varying degrees of fragility and face important challenges. Among the challenges listed out by Mrs Perraud are lack of confidence and low self-esteem; marginalised roles where their opinions are not always valued; intimidation by male councillors; lack of knowledge on their roles and responsibilities; lack of skills in lobbying, networking and advocacy; lack of openness in political decision-making; inadequate knowledge on gender equality and women empowerment discourses; and inabilities to address prevailing gender inequalities within their respective Constituencies/regions.
“Political empowerment is one of the key areas where Mauritius needs to make special efforts,” said Mrs Perraud. She recalled that the last Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum shows that the country has slightly improved. In the Gender Gap Report 2016 of the World Economic Forum, Mauritius ranks 113 out of 144 countries, compared to last year where the country was at the 120th position. According to the Minister, the country has still a long way to go for women to be called fully politically empowered.
For his part, Minister Husnoo stated that women’s political and socio-economic status improves when women become more involved in decision-making and policy development at all levels of Government. According to the Minister, groups made up of diverse individuals tend to make better informed decisions.
“It is important that Councils have female councillors who not only reflect and represent the communities they serve, but also have a broad range of skills and life experiences,” he pointed out.
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