Joint AUC-Un Women Briefing on Women Peace and Security Agenda in Africa to the African Group to the United Nations.

Hosted by the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations 20th October 2020, New York (Virtual)

STATEMENT BY H.E.  Mme BINETA DIOP SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION ON WOMEN, PEACE, AND SECURITY

Your Excellency, Ambassador Tommo Monthe, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations and Chair of the African Group for the month of October 2020.

Your Excellency, Ambassador Fatima K. Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations

H.E. Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives of the African Group to the United Nations

I would like first to express my appreciation to Her Excellency, Ambassador Fatima K. Mohammed, for her leadership and support in hosting today’s Joint AUC-UN Women Briefing on Women, Peace and Security in Africa, with the leadership of the Chair for the Month of October 2020 for convening the African Group to the UN, His Excellency Ambassador Tommo Monthe, Permanent Representative of the distinguished delegation of Cameroon to the United Nations.

Allow me to appreciate and congratulate the tremendous work led by the African Group to the United Nations, notably in the course of this challenging and uncertain year – nonetheless an important year for Africa and the African Union, with a strong focus on peace and security, through the “Silencing the Guns” theme of the year, while reaffirming our strong commitment to gender equality and women’s meaningful participation in transformative change.

Today’s joint briefing on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa comes at an opportune time. Earlier this month, my office, together with key representatives of the African group to the AU in Addis Ababa, convened our Annual Open Session with the AU Peace and Security Council on Women, Peace and Security earlier this month. The Council came to a clear conclusion: Africa holds the necessary platforms and mechanisms, with the coordination of the AU, to fully deliver on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. To date, thirty (30) of our Member States have adopted National Action Plans, making Africa the leading region. However, the Council also noted the urgency to focus on concrete actions, quick impact and to deliver on the promises of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda inscribed in UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Today’s briefing is also inscribed in the context of the upcoming United Nations Security Council Commemorative Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security to be held on 29th October under the Presidency of the delegation of the Russian Federation.  

This Briefing is particularly pertinent currently as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing declaration. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of (UNSCR) 1325 tabled by the distinguished delegation of Namibia. This landmark resolution brought to the forefront the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda putting at the centre of peace processes the prevention of violence against women, the protection of their rights and their meaningful participation in decision-making at all levels.

Africa has been at the forefront of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, starting with the women’s movements on the ground from PAWO to the Mano River movement, to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 under the Presidency of the delegation of Namibia twenty years ago in 2000.

The African Union has taken some concrete steps towards embedding this agenda in its core instruments, including in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol); in the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), and in the AU Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) as a whole. Regional provisions at the level of the Regional Economic Communities remain strong frameworks, which guide our efforts to build more peaceful and sustainable societies, through genuine inclusion and participation of women at various levels.

In the twenty years of policy and action around Women, Peace and Security, the African Union has developed mechanisms – Centers of excellence, peer-to-peer reviews mechanisms, strong strategic partnerships with women’s led organizations, AU Member States, notably through the WPS National Action Plans and most recently through the AU Continental Results Framework, which targets to close the gaps between policy and implementation by bringing together the African Union Commission, relevant AU organs, the RECs, member states and civil society organizations to deliver.

However, despite our efforts to re-center the peace, security and sustainable agenda, we must admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented global health crisis with the potential to reverse decades of progress made to re-center women’s meaningful participation and leadership. The pandemic exacerbates poverty, inequalities and gender-based violence – coined the shadow pandemic by UN Women, while increasing vulnerability by impeding on people’s access to employment, food and other critical resources with particular effects on women and girls, threatening all efforts led on the peacebuilding front.  

Despite the challenges, Women in Peace and Security in Africa and across the world have shown resilience in their undertakings and determination to ensure that this invisible enemy does not erode the gains made over the last two decades.

The AU is convinced that a Common African Position on our achievements as a continent will provide a unique opportunity to foster and enhance the Women, Peace and Security agenda and to continue bringing innovative solutions as we deliver on our commitment to Resolution 1325.

I hope that today’s briefing co-led by my Office and UN women will serve as a platform for us to take stock of our achievements on Women, Peace and Security in Africa, despite the multifold challenges, and to build our common position in the lead up to the UN Security Council Open Debate next week.

I thank you.