Over twenty-two years ago, the UN Security Council adopted security council resolution 1325, linking women’s agencies to peace and security by calling for increased women’s participation in conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction. However, despite the progress made with the development of implementation frameworks, there are huge gaps between its provisions and reality. Women represent a tiny segment of peace negotiators, envoys, mediators, and peacekeepers. For instance, in 2021, only 19% of women participated in UN (co)-led peace processes as negotiators or observers.
The 2021 peace talks report notes that women in Africa were persistently absent from negotiation processes that took place in 2020. In the Central Africa Republic, for instance, women were scarcely involved in decision-making and political negotiations and processes, with only three (3) of the 29 members of the national dialogue’s organising committee being women. Additionally, during the Democratic Republic of the Congo peace consultations in Nairobi in April 2022, women were absent. Likewise, in the Chad peace talks in Doha in 2022, there was only one woman among the over 50 participants present.
However, despite their absence, as shown above, women’s movements and peacebuilders have continued to demand equal and meaningful participation in peace processes while engaging in many local peacebuilding initiatives. In Libya, for instance, women’s groups denounced the breach of commitments, such as by failing to include women in the Government of National Unity and demanded more women in the negotiations, including in the mechanisms for monitoring the ceasefire. In Somalia, the country’s women’s organisations demanded compliance with the minimum quota of 30% adopted in the agreements of 17 September 2020 and 27 May 2021 in all political and peace-building efforts.
In Sudan, women belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North Abdelaziz al-Hilu faction advocated for their inclusion in the political and peace process. In South Sudan, the Women Leadership Forum brought together a diverse group of women who called for strengthened women’s representation in politics and the peace process. And in Mali, following constant advocacy, progress was reported in integrating women into the Agreement Monitoring Committee and its subcommittees.
The above demonstrates the resilience of women in overcoming the myriad of challenges posed by patriarchal norms, an increase in authoritarian governments and disrespect of agreed inclusion principles. In recent times, these challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19, Climate change, a new war in Europe, and a rise in unconstitutional changes of governments in Africa, among others.
Irrespective of women’s increased skills in peacebuilding, activism and formal recognition of their important role and contribution in the search for lasting peace, stability, and development, ascending to formal peacebuilding processes by women remains a huge challenge.
2. ENHANCING WOMEN’S ROLE IN ADVANCING PEACE AND SECURITY IN AFRICA
All regions of Africa (East, West, South, Central and North) are hosting pockets of security and political instability driven by internal civil strives, political unrest and terrorism. These include situations in the Central African Republic, Libya, South Sudan, Northern Mozambique, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Cameroon’s North-West and South-West regions. On the same note, the threat of terrorism in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, East Africa, and the Horn presents further security challenges in Africa. All these have negative consequences for human rights and the security of women and other vulnerable members of society at large. Their effective resolution calls for increased women’s participation than they are today.
The continued absence of women in peace tables requires a re-assessment of the current strategies used to promote women’s participation to formulate new approaches to enhance women’s access, ascension further, and leadership to formal political and peace-building processes, especially given the current challenges.
3. LEVERAGING ON WPS MONITORING AND REPORTING USING THE CRF
Women’s continued exclusion from the formal peace processes indicates the broad systematic gender inequality in the political, social, and economic spheres of life. Addressing these inequalities calls not only for context-appropriate policies but also for data to inform the effectiveness and impact of the various strategic measure put in place.
Consequently, in 2018, the African Union Office of the Special Envoy on WPS, together with Member States, Regional Economic Communities, and Civil Society, developed and validated the Continental Results Framework (CRF) for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the WPS agenda. Peace and Security Council adopted the CRF in May 2018 as an African tool to enhance accountability on WPS by the various actors in the continent.
The tool has become helpful in the current situation of multiple crises. It is helping to track the impact of the crisis on women, as well as their contribution and participation in mitigation and response processes. In addition, it is being used to assess the delivery of the existing WPS action plans and strategies by our member states and regional organizations.
4. THE 3RD AFRICA FORUM ON WOMEN’S PEACE AND SECURITY
Given the preceding, this third Africa forum on women’s peace and security serves as a space to deliberate, share experiences, and recommended practical actions for advancing women’s participation in the peace process. The forum will also offer an opportunity to assess the progress made by member states and regional organizations in delivering existing commitments on WPS using the CRF.
The forum will bring women peacebuilders, leaders, and national & regional focal points on women’s peace and security.
5. DURING THE FORUM, DELIBERATION WILL
Reflect on the current strategies for enhancing women’s participation in peace processes to understand the gaps and make recommendations.
2. Reflect on how to strengthen and support women’s peace-building networks, especially in countries undergoing political crises.
3. Reflect further on the role of young women and girls in peace and security
4. Evaluate the delivery of existing WPS strategies, using the CRF with a view to input on the 3rd report of the AUC chairpersons report on the Implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa.
For further information, contact:
Ms. Catherine Gaku Njeru | Gender Monitoring Specialist | E-mail: NjeruC@africa-union.org
Ms. Mylande ODJO | Communication | E-mail: email@example.com