against Women

Fortieth session

Summary record of the 813th meeting

Held at Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Wednesday, 16 January 2008, at 10 a.m.

Chair person:Ms. Šimonović


Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention (continued)

Combined second, third and fourth periodic reports of Burundi

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention (continued)

Combined second, third and fourth periodic reports of Burundi (CEDAW/C/BDI/4 , CEDAW/C/BDI/Q/4 and Add.1 )

1. At the invitation of the Chairperson, the delegation of Burundi took places at the Committee table.

2.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi), introducing the report, said that since 1993, the poor social and economic conditions resulting from war in her country had complicated efforts to implement the Convention. Burundi was in the process of post-conflict peacebuilding, including the establishment of democratic institutions and the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and members of the armed forces. Despite significant reform of the country’s defence and security forces, her Government continued to face the challenge of eliminating violence, including violence against women and girls, and, much remained to be done in order to eliminate discriminatory laws.

3.Concerning the Committee’s recommendation, in its concluding comments on the initial report, that Burundi should review the provisions that predicated differential ages of marriage for women, she said that the different ages of marriage posed no major problem of discrimination and helped resolve a demographic problem; there had never been any complaints. With respect to the statement, in the Code of the Person and the Family, that the man was the head of the household, neither the law nor society permitted the abuse of that power. The discriminatory provisions of the Penal Code with regard to adultery, referred to in the concluding comments, were being revised to make them more egalitarian.

4.The Government organized yearly campaigns to combat violence against women and gave priority to human rights education. It made available post-trauma counselling for women victims with the help of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and was working in partnership with a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO), to provide support to victims of violence. The problem of trauma, however, had diminished since the height of the crisis. An independent national human rights commission was being established.

5.The Convention was now part of the Constitution. Since the submission of the initial report, the national body with responsibility for monitoring implementation of the Convention had become the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender. The Ministry worked in close coordination with United Nations agencies and international and national NGOs.

6.In 2003, the Government had adopted an important policy aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and promoting gender equality. To that end, it had developed a plan of action, the National Gender Council, the Technical Committee on Gender and the Permanent Executive Secretariat of the Council.

7.The Government had also launched a campaign to educate girls in an effort to redress the education gap between the sexes. The Ministry of Education had established a unit on girls’ education and was conducting a programme as part of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) planned to develop a national strategy for girls’ education in the near future.

8.Workshops had been organized with local elected officials and decision-making bodies in order to raise awareness of gender issues, a standing parliamentary committee on gender had been established and a study of legal, social and cultural practices which harmed women had recently been conducted.

9.The Government had drawn up a plan of action to combat violence against women and the child protection police would be trained in the treatment of victims and in the relevant legislation through a project funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Gender focal points would be established at police stations and a hotline would be set up for victims.

10.Burundian women did not experience legal discrimination with respect to participation in public life, as seen from the Constitution and the large number of women in high-level elected and appointed posts. During the reporting period, Burundi had a woman Vice-President responsible for social and economic affairs, a woman President of the National Assembly and two women Presidents of the Senate, although all those posts were currently held by men. Women currently headed six ministries including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Finance, Development Planning and Cooperation. Women held 15 per cent of the seats in the National Assembly and 32 per cent in the Senate. Not much progress had been made at the level of heads of diplomatic mission and the proportion of women in local government was relatively weak, although they were now represented even at the lowest administrative levels. Among the remaining challenges was improving the percentage of women at all levels of decision-making, the eradication of harmful cultural practices and the elimination of economic dependence.

11.Burundian women had the same right as men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. Nonetheless, owing to the strong attachment of Burundian men to patriarchal forms of social organization and to demographic concerns, a Burundian woman married to a foreigner could not automatically confer her nationality upon her child or her husband. The Government recognized that situation as an injustice which would be rectified as international human rights instruments became more broadly known. Furthermore, the Code of the Person and the Family would soon be amended.

12.The Constitution guaranteed equal access to education and culture. At his inauguration in August 2005, the President had announced that primary education would henceforth be free, although the lack of classrooms and teachers persisted. The social and political crisis had greatly affected access to education, particularly for girls. Although there were no legal barriers to their education, they faced the problems of poverty; gender stereotypes; parental illiteracy, which resulted in girls being kept at home to provide manual labour; and HIV/AIDS, which caused girls to become caretakers of the ill. In the area of non-formal education, efforts were being made to provide training and promote self-employment in rural areas without discrimination. Boys and girls enjoyed the same right to participate in cultural activities and sports.

13.Since the initial report, Burundi’s labour law had not been harmonized with the Convention. However, the existing laws guaranteed men and women the same rights regarding access to employment and related benefits, with the exception of maternity leave. The profound gender disparities in education were reflected in the area of employment. Nevertheless, some progress had been made. Women were increasingly represented in the police and army, which had long been reserved exclusively for men. The National Police and the National Defence Forces employed women, albeit in low-ranking posts for which they had only recently been eligible. Women accounted for some 19 per cent of managers in the civil service; that percentage was considerably higher in lower-ranking and lower-paid posts. However, it should be emphasized that the private sector was also making efforts to recruit women as a result of a number of campaigns to increase awareness of gender equality.

14.The maternal mortality rate was very high owing to a lack of time and resources to ensure adequate care during pregnancy and childbirth. To remedy that problem, traditional birth attendants had been trained and supervised under the National Reproductive Health Programme and were regularly provided with basic equipment. The Government had also taken steps to provide free childbirth services and health care for children under 5. It was strongly committed to combating HIV/AIDS and had established a National Anti-AIDS Council with branches in all provinces of the country and testing and support facilities in all hospitals and health centres.

15.In 2003, 983 cases of sexual violence had been registered and in 2004, 1,675 cases. Many cases of rape were unreported or settled among the families involved, especially in rural areas, as a result of cultural constraints. Counselling and other services were provided to rape victims. The Government had launched campaigns to combat it, special courts were regularly organized to try the accused, and strict sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment were handed down.

16.The law did not discriminate against women in economic matters. Burundian women, like Burundian men, were restricted by their inability to meet the loan requirements of financial institutions. Since the previous report, the number of loans granted to women had increased, and women were now granted business and home loans.

17.Among the initiatives designed to improve the lives of rural women were a project on support for the promotion of reproductive health, the rural recovery and development programme and others outlined in the report.

18.Burundi was firmly committed to implementing the Convention, amending discriminatory laws and combating violence against women, especially through comprehensive support for victims. Nevertheless, it faced many obstacles, including the ongoing war. A national committee had recently been established to ensure the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) in order to support women in their peacebuilding efforts.

Articles 1 to 6

19.Ms. Patten asked whether a time frame for the legislative reform process had been established. Specificity, as well as further changes in the inheritance and marriage laws, were needed. In its response to the questions on the initial report (CEDAW/C/BDI/Q/4 and Add.1), the Government noted that there were different views on such matters within the population; she wondered whether those differences would further delay the legal reform necessary to eliminate discrimination.

20.More information on the Nationality Code was needed. As the right of the mother to transmit her name to her children was extremely important, she urged the delegation to bring the Code into line with the Convention. Further information on the status of the reform of the Code of the Person and the Family was also needed. Lastly, it would be useful to know the extent to which Parliament would be involved in the reporting process and in the implementation of the Convention.

21.Ms. Gaspard said that the responses to the list of issues were incomplete or misguided and there was a discrepancy between what was stated therein and the delegation’s introductory remarks concerning the Nationality Code. The report candidly acknowledged the gaps in implementation of the Convention. Regrettably, very few legal reforms to promote gender equality had been implemented since the signing of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi. The report mentioned many projects, but few results and few of the recommendations made by the Committee during discussion of the initial report had been implemented. She would like to know whether the drafting of the current report had been an opportunity to mobilize national bodies to take into account the Convention and the previous recommendations of the Committee. She wondered whether civil society had been consulted on the report and which governmental body was responsible for following up on implementation of the Convention and the Committee’s recommendations and for coordinating gender policies.

22.Ms. Dariam (Rapporteur) observed that although Burundi had acceded to the Convention some fifteen years previously, a number of discriminatory legal provisions still existed, contrary to article 2 of the Convention. The report suggested that article 122 of the Code of the Person and the Family, which identified the husband as the head of the household, was not problematic as his authority could be revoked if abuse was reported. However, such abuses were numerous and the report appeared to imply that women were at fault for failing to report them. She wished to know whether any studies of the adverse impact of article 122 had been conducted and whether cases in which men had had their authority revoked, or the article had been abused, could be cited. She urged the Government to repeal and amend discrimination in the law and requested further information on its plans to implement the Committee’s concluding comments on the initial report.

23.Mr. Flinterman asked how the Convention had been incorporated into the Constitution. The articles of the Constitution on equality and discrimination appeared to be limited in scope; they should be reviewed in the light of article 1 of the Convention, which covered formal and substantive equality and direct and indirect discrimination in the public and private spheres.

24.With reference to article 2 of the Convention, he asked for information on the legal remedies available to women seeking to enforce their rights and on the role of the new independent national human rights commission. He hoped that the Government would soon ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and wondered how the judiciary was to be sensitized to gender issues in order to improve rural women’s access to justice.

25.Ms. Shin called on the Government to pay special attention to discriminatory laws. With reference to the husband as head of household, she added that under the present law, the position of women was secondary; as long as they were regarded as inferior in the family, they would be considered inferior throughout society.

26.The argument that differences in the minimum age of marriage for men and women served to limit procreation was flawed since it was women who gave birth. The report stated that no complaints had been made on this issue, but some NGOs had requested that the marriage age should be the same for men and women; she wondered whether civil society had been consulted on the matter.

27.She requested information on the time frame for review of the numerous discriminatory laws, acknowledged in the report and the presentation, which contradicted the Constitution. The delegation should also explain whether women were equally represented on the new Commission on Human Rights and whether its mandate addressed the issue of equality for women.

28.Ms. Sch ö pp - Schilling said that while she recognized the difficulties of the post-war period, incorporation of the Convention into the Constitution obliged the Government to eliminate discrimination. She requested further details with regard to the time frame for adoption of the draft legislation on inheritance, matrimonial regimes and gifts and asked whether men and women had equal access to traditional institutions of justice, whether those institutions discriminated against women and whether their members received training in the Convention. With reference to the demobilization exercise, she asked whether the situation of girl soldiers had been considered.

29.The Chairperson, speaking as a member of the Committee, said that despite the post-war situation, it was still possible to ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights. The report stated explicitly that the Convention had been incorporated into article 19 of the Constitution. However, a national mechanism that would allow the Government to align its legislation with the provisions of the Convention, in accordance with article 2 of the Convention, was also necessary.

30.She requested further information on any procedures for challenging discriminatory laws and bring them into line with the Constitution and the Convention and asked whether such due process was also available to Parliament. Moreover, she sought clarification of the role of the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender and asked whether any court cases in which the Convention had been invoked directly could be cited.

31.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) said that incorporation of the Convention into the Constitution was part of a process; the Convention now stood as a point of reference.

32.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that fewer reforms had been implemented than had been envisaged in the Arusha Agreement. Although the Agreement had been signed in 2000, the new institutions had been in existence only since the end of 2007 and most of the projects mentioned were only now being set up.

33.The Ministry of Social Action and the Advancement of Women was the body responsible for drafting the report and had collaborated with other relevant national bodies and with civil society, as well as with the Government, Parliament and the Gender, Equal Opportunity and Child Protection Committee.

34.Discriminatory laws did indeed exist. The Code of the Person and the Family had been analysed and in 2006, the Ministry had decided to revise its provisions on women with a specific budget and in cooperation with civil society, in particular the Association for Women Jurists of Burundi (AFJB).

35.The Ministry of Social Action and the Advancement of Women was reviewing the law on succession with all concerned parties and civil society, as stated in the report, but it did not wish to act hastily as the subject was sensitive. The review was in its final stages and should be completed swiftly.

36.The current Government had agreed that the Convention should be incorporated into the Constitution and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all laws had formed part of its electoral campaign. With regard to article 2 of the Convention, her country was aware that the primacy of the husband as head of household was sometimes abused and that that law, among others, should be changed once the Code of the Person and the Family was reviewed.

37.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) said that the draft legislation on inheritance, matrimonial regimes and gifts had been reviewed by the Government and discussed with the Parliament; it was anticipated that it would come into force by the end of February 2008. She would ensure that women and men were equally represented on the independent national human rights commission.

38.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that women combatants had been offered financed social reintegration projects as a demobilization “return package” and the Ministry of Social Action and the Advancement of Women had sought to respond to their requests for such projects.

39.It was the responsibility of that Ministry to implement and raise awareness of the Convention, which it had translated into the national language through the Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide. A survey had been conducted in order to assess public awareness of the Convention in 2004, following its translation.

40.Through meetings with civil society and other partners, the Government had become aware that the difference in the minimum age for marriage was discriminatory. The Code of the Person and the Family would be reviewed in conjunction with civil society and in light of the social changes taking place in Burundi.

Articles 3 and 4

41.Ms. Tavares da Silva observed that the report provided scant information on the implementation of article 3 of the Convention; it referred to needed legal reforms but stated that it had not been possible for the Government to consider them and that they had not been a priority. She wondered whether recognition of the need for change with a view to gender equality had lost momentum since the signing of the Arusha Agreement and why the Arusha Agreement Implementation Monitoring Committee, which had formerly included six women members, now had none. It would therefore appear contradictory to say that Burundi was strengthening its implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

42.Ms. Chutikul asked for a more detailed description of the structure of the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender and enquired whether it had sufficient human and financial resources. It would be interesting to learn more about the Ministry’s links with the Family Development Centres and about their mandate and staffing levels. She also requested further information about the National Gender Council; she wondered whether it was effective and, if not, what measures had been taken to evaluate and improve its operations.

43.It would be useful to know whether, in the context of their efforts to disseminate the Convention, the authorities routinely dispensed advice on how women whose rights had been violated could submit complaints. Lastly, she urged the State party to identify three to five priority measures, designed to eliminate discrimination against women that could be implemented within the next five years.

44.Ms. Shin said that the report did not contain sufficient information about the National Gender Council, its Permanent Executive Secretariat or the Technical Committee on Gender. It would be useful to know how those bodies functioned and, in particular, how frequently the Council met. Since the Government had established a number of plans and policies in various sectors, she would be grateful for an indication of the relative importance of the National Gender Policy. She also asked whether the plan of action for the implementation of that policy had been evaluated.

45.Ms. Schöpp-Schilling stressed that the incorporation of the Convention into the new Constitution afforded the Government a unique opportunity to introduce temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women. For instance, with a view to increasing the school enrolment rate for girls, it might be desirable to offer financial incentives to families that enrolled their daughters. Under article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, it should also be possible to allocate additional funding, on a temporary basis, to programmes designed to reduce illiteracy levels among older women.

46.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that the Government had decided to establish the National Gender Council in September 2003. In 2004, however, efforts to promote gender equality had focused on preparing women to take part in elections, and thus the Council, its Permanent Secretariat and the Technical Committee on Gender had never been established. Steps were now being taken to remedy that situation. The objective of the National Gender Policy, a copy of which could be made available to the Committee, was to eliminate serious discrimination against women in 12 priority areas. The cross-cutting policy was being implemented by various government departments, each of which was responsible for conducting the relevant follow-up and monitoring activities.

47.Family Development Centres had been established in 14 of Burundi’s 17 provinces and the Ministry was seeking partners to support its efforts to set up similar facilities in the remaining provinces. The Centres, which operated on a decentralized basis, provided adult literacy training and information seminars on the Convention and other relevant human rights instruments. They also coordinated efforts to combat violence against women at the provincial level. Each Centre had at least one university-educated staff member, as well as a number of support staff. Although the budget for the Centres was rather small, a number of their activities were carried out in partnership with other entities.

48.Lastly, she explained that there had been no female members of the Arusha Agreement Implementation Monitoring Committee in 2005 because the Committee had concluded its work and no longer existed.

49.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) said that the budgetary resources earmarked for activities designed to promote gender equality remained insufficient. More substantial support was needed to ensure that the provisions of the Convention were implemented rapidly and effectively.

50.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that the transitional justice mechanisms established in the context of the peacebuilding process were still relatively new. However, 50 per cent of the members of the committee set up to steer the national consultation process on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were women.

51.Mr. Mahwera (Burundi) said that despite the tremendous difficulties it faced, the Government was doing its utmost to implement the provisions of the Convention with a view to eliminating discrimination against women. Nevertheless, its efforts were severely hampered by an acute lack of financial resources, and sustained support from the international community was critical. He looked forward to hearing the Committee’s advice and recommendations.

52.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) assured the Committee that complaints submitted to the courts by women were not treated any differently from those submitted by men.

53.The Chairperson acknowledged the serious difficulties faced by Burundi as it embarked upon the process of peacebuilding but pointed out that many other countries were experiencing or had experienced similar problems. The constructive dialogue between the State party and the Committee was intended to allow for a frank exchange of views.

54.Ms. Pimentel noted that under the Penal Code, women who committed adultery were subject to far more severe penalties than men. She wished to know whether the Government intended to amend that provision and whether any steps had been taken to modify cultural beliefs that discriminated against women.

55.Victims of domestic violence could bring complaints before the courts by invoking the laws on assault, but it would be interesting to learn whether the State party intended to draft and promulgate a separate law on domestic violence. Paragraph 128 of the report stated that the phenomenon of rape was growing at a frightening pace. She enquired as to the specific measures taken to address that problem, particularly in rural areas. In that connection, the delegation should indicate whether law enforcement officials and members of the judiciary received training on women’s rights. According to the report, the phenomenon of sexual violence was associated with the crisis, which had triggered a number of behavioural disorders among men. She would therefore like to hear more about the availability of mental health services.

56.Ms. Ara Begum expressed concern about the severity of the violence inflicted on Burundian women, which amounted to a serious violation of their human rights. They were particularly vulnerable in detention centres, where male and female detainees were not held separately, and perpetrators of rape and other forms of sexual violence often enjoyed impunity because cases tended to be settled privately. She requested more detailed information about the current status of the national plan of action to combat violence against women and its content and budget. She asked whether the Government had enacted a separate law on domestic violence or launched any programmes or campaigns to address discriminatory male attitudes and enquired as to the availability of support services for women displaced by the conflict.

57.Ms. Chutikul, said that poor women with limited access to educational services were particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Since the report was almost entirely silent on that subject, the State party should indicate whether it had developed a plan to combat trafficking in women and girls and whether it had signed and ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and Convention No. 182 of the International Labour Organization on the worst forms of child labour. Reports from NGOs suggested that Burundian women had been trafficked to Lebanon. She wondered whether the State party had any comment on those reports and, more generally, would be interested to hear more about the Government’s relations with destination countries.

58.The Chairperson, speaking as a member of the Committee, asked for an update on the progress implementation of the recommendations of the Committee against Torture regarding the inclusion in the Penal Code of a provision criminalizing domestic sexual violence (CAT/C/BDI/CO/1, p. 4) and drew attention to the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 19 on violence against women. She would like to have more information on any national plans of action in that area and on progress in the adoption of legislation on domestic violence. In 2006, the United Nations Secretary-General had released an in-depth study on violence against women containing recommendations for national action plans and laws, which might be of interest to the Government.

59.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) assured the Committee that the Government and Ministry took violence against women seriously. The entire nation had been involved in the “16 Days of Activism To End Violence against Women”, a global initiative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the objective of raising awareness of the problem throughout the country. During the most recent campaign, rape victims had shared their experiences as a way of encouraging other victims to come forward. The Family Development Centres in local communities were involved in providing medical care and moral and material support to victims, many of whom were rejected by their families because they were viewed as having brought them dishonour. Sadly, the number of rape victims continued to rise; the phenomenon was just one of the wounds caused to Burundian society by the armed conflict.

60.As to whether women would report their husbands to the police for domestic violence, women’s organizations were helping them to learn to speak out against such violence, but change in behaviour was a long process.

61.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that the drafting of a domestic violence law was on the Ministry’s agenda for 2008. Extra-judicial settlement of rape cases was a reality in Burundi and was used as a means of compensating the victim and her family without openly portraying the offence as rape. Local radio broadcasts repeated the message that such methods should not be used to settle violent crimes, but the practice persisted. Continued efforts to raise awareness should have an effect, however.

62.Mental health care for both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence was provided with assistance from NGOs in an effort to prevent perpetrators from repeating their crimes after they had served their sentences. Rape committed by a person infected with HIV/AIDS would be punished more severely under the Penal Code.

63.The Ministry had just signed with the National Police an agreement to provide training to officers in dealing with cases of domestic and gender violence, establish gender units within police stations to deal with victims and set up emergency domestic violence hotlines. The Transitional Programme for Post-Conflict Reconstruction component on women had been a short-term project in the four western provinces that had experienced the longest period of conflict.

64.Turning to the issue of trafficking of women and girls, she acknowledged that the problem had not been fully addressed. However, ILO Convention No. 192 was part of the national gender policy and steps were being taken to begin implementing it. A plan of action on trafficking had been elaborated in 2004, followed by the implementation of an emergency plan in 2005. A project on gender equality and violence against women had received United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funding in 2006, but it had ended before many of its activities had been carried out. During the observance of the 16 Days of Activism in 2007, a comprehensive plan of action had been developed with specific programmes and strategies. Regular coordination among all relevant actors had taken place since 2003. Each year’s plan had focused on the areas of awareness, training, medical, legal and psycho-social support to victims of trafficking, and coordination. Improved coordination would be the focus of efforts in 2008.

Articles 7 to 9

65.Ms. Arocha Dominguez said that the report did not mention whether progress had been made in achieving the 30 per cent quota for women’s representation in the National Assembly as mandated in the Constitution. She would also be interested to hear about progress at the regional and local levels and to know whether any special temporary measures had been applied. Information on efforts to meet the 30 per cent quota for women in government agencies was also needed, along with an update on progress in entering women and girls in the civil registry, thus enabling them to participate in elections and public life, as requested during the committee’s consideration of the initial report in 2000.

66.Ms. Halperin-Kaddari asked the delegation to elaborate on the table contained in paragraph 70 of the report, which indicated a sharp decline in the number of women on the staff of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. That was an alarming trend, as the Office was responsible for prosecuting cases of violence against women.

67.Ms. Gaspard cautioned that the 30 per cent quota for women’s participation should be seen as a minimum, rather than a ceiling. She asked if there were any special temporary measures aimed at increasing the number of women holding high offices in the Government and the diplomatic service.

68.With regard to article 9, the information given in the report, the responses to the list of issues and the introductory statement by the delegation were contradictory. Burundi was not in conformity with the Convention because it was not legally possible for a woman to give her name to her children; progress was needed in that area.

69.Ms. Nduwayo (Burundi) said that women currently made up 32 per cent of the National Assembly and the Senate and held approximately 30 per cent of posts in other areas of government. At the colline level, women’s representation was 14 per cent, but the very fact that they had been elected heads of collines represented progress.

70.Ms. Ntirampeba (Burundi) said that the target of 30 per cent representation in the National Assembly and the Senate had been achieved only with hard work and determination. Considering that before 2004, no woman had ever been elected head of a colline, even one such election represented progress.

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.