The establishment of a Regional Research and Documentation Centre for Women, Gender and Peace-building in the Great Lakes Region is one of the major activities of UNESCO’s Gender Equality Programme. The creation of the Centre is part of UNESCO’s programme in favour of promoting the human rights and the status of women living in the Great Lakes Region through pursuing policy-oriented research, consultations, networking, capacity building and sustainable peace in this region.
It will aim at safeguarding and promoting respect for the rights of women in the Great Lakes Region. In connection with this regional centre, national centres will also be established in ten other African states participating in this programme: Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
UNESCO’s work in this area builds on international and regional instruments to undertake capacity building activities for African women in conflict situations. In the light of the Social and Human Sciences mandate in UNESCO, particular attention is being paid to the need to:
- Increase the representation of women at all decision-making levels.
- Support women’s grassroots organizations in their peace initiatives.
- Ensure protection of and respect for human rights of women and girls.
The Regional Centre will benefit from the support of different partners from within the UN system, in particular the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the African Bank of Development. The Centre will also work in collaboration with regional intergovernmental agencies including the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the African Observatory on Women’s Rights, created by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Following its inauguration in early 2011 the Centre will initially pursue three major programmes:
- A major research programme on the theme of violence against women in the Region.
- The creation of an Observatory on Women and Poverty.
- The creation of a virtual network linking the Regional and National Centres, and a digital library to diffuse resources and publications throughout the region.