By Agar Nana Mbianda, May 23, 2017 — 

Our Alliance members in Burundi are taking the lead to achieve full gender equality by 2030.

Back in February, 50 Women Thrive Alliance member organizations from 24 countries participated in the first online session of our “Speak the SDGs” course on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to achieve them. Participants learned how to communicate about their work in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and seek partnerships to further their SDG-era work to achieve gender equality. Four of these organizations from Burundi were able to connect with one another through the course’s live group chat sessions and found synergies and common objectives in their gender equality advocacy. Excited by the new connections and opportunity to advocate together on SDG5, the global goal on gender equality, they began forming a coalition.

Why are coalitions so important?

A coalition is a group of individuals or organizations that share a common interest and agree to pursue a common goal. The objective is to tackle the challenges of implementing and achieving something big (like the SDGs) that are too large and too complex for a single person or organization. The coalition is a great way to move forward and help the government, the community, and all other organizations to move in the same direction, take responsibility, and take action.

In recent years, Burundi has made significant progress in the implementation of policies and programs to further gender equality. This is due not only to the efforts of the Burundian government but also to the important and remarkable work of civil society. This is why it was ranked 2nd in Africa and 12th in the world among countries that have made progress toward achieving gender equality as stipulated by this report, pages 10, 15, 128. Moreover, the country adopted a National Gender Policy in 2003, revised and consolidated in 2012 with the vision of “a society where men and women enjoy the same rights, benefit from the same opportunities and thus contribute, as equal partners, at the building of a fair prosperous and equitable society. ”

However, much remains to be done: as denounced by the CEDAW committee, a lack of coordination and resources needed for effective implementation means that women and girls in Burundi continue to suffer from discrimination and an imbalance of power.

Although the Burundian government has a political will to do so, there is still a long way to go to achieve SDG5, as numerous abuses have been reported against journalists and human rights defenders in January 2017 in the Human Rights Watch report. That is why the involvement of stakeholders and especially of civil society is crucial. Only a coalition of dedicated advocates can push the government to meet its commitment to achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality by 2030.

Our incredible Alliance members working to #AchieveSDG5

Members of the Alliance in Burundi have an important role to play. They have implemented amazing projects and work on a day-to-day basis to strengthen the capacities of women and girls for positive change and above all, promote recognition and appreciation of their rights.

Since May, these members have met in a coalition to advocate for the achievement of SDG5 in Burundi. One of the members said:“By being united…it will help us to support each other and to unite our efforts…to define together, the best coordination strategy to maximize the impact…”

The achievement of the SDGs, and particularly SDG5, requires cooperation and action from everybody. That’s why Women Thrive’s #AchieveSDG5 initiative works to bring together advocates and magnify the voice and impact of grassroots women’s rights and gender equality groups in national level decision-making. Our strategic coaching and workshops support organizations to design and implement successful advocacy campaigns using the messages they have created and the connections they have made with one another.

It is necessary for Burundi that citizens and civil society organizations have an opportunity to participate actively in the definition of priorities and in the decision-making process. This coalition sets a good example for other members of the Alliance in other countries and, above all, imposes itself as an indispensable partner for the achievement of the SDGs and particularly the SDG5 in Burundi.