Central African Republic

Development Partner Consultation | Brussels 26 June 2007

Sector note1

1. Current situation
The Central African Republic (CAR) has ratified several international treaties and action plans on human rights. At the national level, the political will of the government was demonstrated in the adoption of a new constitution on the 27 December 2004, which recognizes that all Central Africans are equal in the economic, political, and social spheres of life. The government’s commitment to human rights was also reflected in the adoption of a national policy on the promotion of equality and equity in 2005. Despite such progress, however, gender inequalities persist. In fact: (a) Women are generally under-educated, with a majority of women being illiterate, while girls are lagging behind boys in the areas of school enrolment and alphabetisation. Accordingly, CAR has one of the lowest school enrolment rates for girls in Africa. In 2003, the net rate of school enrolment for girls was 36.9%, against 44.3% for boys. The percentage of illiterate women (68%) is significantly higher than that of men (46.2%). The causes of these inequalities are manifold and well-known. They are economic, institutional and sociocultural. (b) For reasons of social, political, judiciary and cultural discriminatory practices, women remain largely uninvolved in the management and control of resources. Marginalised and become increasingly vulnerable, they have difficulties accessing loans due to a lack of financial guarantees, which also hampers their capacity to improve or develop agricultural activities and generate income. (c) Having been the first victims of the last military and political crises, women continue to fall victim to appalling violence. According to the 2006 MICS study, 14.2% of women in urban environments have been subjected to sexual violence, compared to 9.5% in rural environments. (d) Women are underrepresented in state institutions: only 11 out of 105 Members of Parliament and 4 out of 22 ministers are women. In the judiciary, the situation is as following: judges: 5 women against 43 men; registrars: 6 women against 83 men; notaries: 3 women against 5 men; lawyers: 7 women against 50 men; administrators: 1 woman against 15 men. Obstacles on the basis of gender are still numerous, widely prevalent, and render women’s access to decision-making positions extremely difficult. At the level of local government, there are only 6 female mayors as compared to 66 male ones. (e) Women’s involvement in the formulation of policies, programmes, and projects of development is severely curtailed, and they are often considered as mere “consumers” of development, when they should in fact have the same opportunity as men to express themselves, to decide, and to participate in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of development programmes, in good conditions. (f) Disadvantaged by a discriminatory legal and regulatory framework, the majority of women are unaware of their rights, and are thus unable to defend them. The situation is even more dramatic among illiterate women, as most relevant texts are written in French. The weakness or absence of a judicial status of women is explained partly by the fundamental


Translation of the “Fiche d’information - Genre” 1

Development Partner Consultation for the Central African Republic | Brussels 26 June 2007

Sector note | Forestry

characteristics and mechanisms of Central African society. For women, this situation deprives them of decision-making power, management opportunities, and of control over resources and goods, which they are only rarely entitled to possess. (g) Virtually uninvolved in the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts, women are nevertheless the first victims of armed conflict. It is easy to understand the pertinence of United Nations Resolution 1325, which recommends government to actively involve women in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.

2. Long-term vision
The Government’s ambition is to “create an adequate macro-economic, legal, cultural, and political framework to give men and women equal opportunities, and to measure the impact on both social groups.” This will be done in accordance with the national policy on the promotion of equality and equity, and in accordance with its action plan, which is currently being finalised, with the aim of substantially reducing gender inequality by 2015.

3. Recommended strategies to reduce gender inequalities
Through the following strategies, the government’s objective is the cross-cutting integration of genderspecific issues in national development plans and programmes, based on the national policy for the promotion of equality and equity. Four strategic priorities have been selected: (a) Increase the participation of women in decision-making: The challenge is to create a favourable environment and an appropriate context for changing mentalities, which is often hard to bring about. (b) Increase the involvement of female leaders in the formulation of development policies, programmes, and projects: Currently, most development programmes are designed without taking the specific needs of women into account. Hence the need to involve women from the beginning of the programming process, from the conception to the monitoring and evaluation of projects. (c) Improve the judicial, legal and institutional framework for gender equality: The judicial and legal framework still largely disadvantages Central African women. This is why the government will make efforts to reinforce the technical and institutional capacities of structures, managers, and parliamentarians in the area of equality of rights and of the equal implementation of national judicial texts and international conventions. (d) Increase the involvement of women in the peace process and conflict resolution: The first victims of civil wars, or conflicts between countries, are always those most vulnerable: women, children, and the elderly. In CAR, women, have paid the highest price in recent armed conflicts. It is entirely logical that women should now be involved in all processes of reconciliation, peace, and conflict resolution in this country.

Development Partner Consultation for the Central African Republic | Brussels 26 June 2007