The National Council for Women (NCW) is seeking ways to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security within an African context. To this end it is coordinating with Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s first ambassador for women, peace and security, Jean-Bosco Butera, special adviser and chief of staff of the African Unions Special Envoy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and Randa Abul-Hassan, director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt.
NCW head Maya Morsi stressed that women have a vital role in the making and maintenance of peace. “Involving women in peace efforts promotes national dialogue, stronger policies and just peace agreements,” said Morsi.
“African governments must recognise and support women’s role in peace-making and peacekeeping.”
Women and children, she pointed out, comprise more than 80 per cent of those in need of humanitarian assistance that results from conflict.
Twenty-five African countries have already drawn up international action plans to promote peace and security, says Butera. They have developed National Action Plans (NAPs) to boost the implementation of the WPS agenda, and Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa are due to finalise their first ever WPS NAPs before October 2020.
“Egypt and other African countries must work to achieve security and peace. Women, inside and outside Egypt, will help secure peace via effective plans,” said Butera.
Egypt began work on its WPS NAP in May 2019, said Morsi, “within the framework of empowering women across the board”.
Africa’s 2063 agenda calls for women and children to be able to develop their full potential away from fear, disease and want. The agenda requires state parties to adopt all necessary measures to ensure women’s participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution at local, national, regional, continental and international levels and in all aspects of planning, formulation and implementation of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.
“The representation of African women and their participation in peace processes remain limited. African women are still exposed to the threat of sexual and gender-based violence,” says Butera.
Global statistics lay bare the under-representation of women in peace efforts. Between 1990 and 2017 women constituted two per cent of mediators, five per cent of witnesses and signatories, and just eight per cent of negotiators, O’Neill noted.
“Yet several studies have revealed that peace agreements with female signatories are linked with durable peace.
Also, when women are included in peace processes the probability that an agreement will last at least 15 years rises to 35 per cent.”
According to O’Neill, increasing women’s influence will facilitate more effective peace agreements.
She cites the 37 per cent lower occurrence of hunger when women are prioritised in food distribution as an example of how prioritising women’s and girls’ needs can accelerate and maintain effective peace processes.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 September, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the title: Peace and security