Geneva / Windhoek – While much of the world was enchanted by the US election amid an out-of-control pandemic, the Special Envoy of the African Union (AU) @AUBinetaDiop thought of peace. She coordinates the Virtual Forum for Women, Peace and Security (WPS) of 10-12 November, with a focus on improving ‘the synergy of actions and accountability in delivering the WPS agenda in Africa’, which Making United Nations 1325 more effective. Register for the forum, scheduled to begin the three days at 12:30 East African Time.
The AU Forum on Women, Peace and Security is 10-12 November.
Adopted by the UN Security Council, ask 1325 for women’s “equal participation and full involvement in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security”. The resolution is 20de anniversary was marked on October 29th. On that day, AllAfrica hosted talks between Bineta Diop and two women veterans of women’s peacebuilding, the Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation @Netumbondaitwah and Liberian Nobel laureate Leemah Gbowee @LeymahRGbowee.
The first part of Diop’s conversation with Nandi-Ndaitwah is marked by the warmth and familiarity of pioneers in the pursuit of peace. [Part two, and the discussion with Leemah Gbowee, will follow.]
AllAfrica: Ambassador Diop, you founded Femmes Africa Solidarité and appear on lists of the world’s most influential women. Thank you for arranging this discussion on the importance of Resolution 1325 – what it has achieved and how you can apply it more fully. Deputy Deputy Prime Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah, thank you for making time for your birthday. Namibia chaired the Security Council twenty years ago when the resolution was adopted – and the achievement was preceded by a meeting in the Namibian capital called the Windhoek Declaration, which called for a global commitment to equal participation of women in peacebuilding. a submission to the Security Council. [Another Windhoek Declaration, in 1991, was a statement of press freedom principles by African journalists.]
Diop: Many thanks to AllAfrica for addressing the issue of women, peace and security and for making sure I have this conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia, whom I call my dear sister. Happy Birthday! Your birthday is on the day of the anniversary of 1325. What a coincidence.
Ndaitwah: And the Nagoya Protocol was adopted on October 29 in Nagoya. I was there at 12 [midnight], and the Japanese Foreign Minister said: ‘What a birthday present for the Namibian Minister!’ [The Nagoya Protocol – an agreement to share the benefits of the planet’s biodiversity resources – was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. It has been ratified by 127 United Nations member states and the European Union. Proponents see preserving and sharing the genetic diversity of plants, animals and microorganisms as an important tool for human survival.]
Diop: These are dates we will never forget – a part of our lives, Madam Deputy Prime Minister. It’s good to have you with us today. Thank you for making time, especially on your birthday – but your birthday comes at an important time for women and for Africa. I must say that you were also Namibian Minister of Women’s Affairs at the Windhoek Declaration in 2000. [promoting women’s full participation in peace and security efforts], which we would like to discuss with you.
This is an important day for us. This is the 1325th anniversary, and I’m sure you’ll talk about it. [initiative] was born in the soil of Namibia, the soil of Africa. Resolution 1325 is important to us as women, especially on the continent. Even before 1325 we were in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] and other conflict countries to ensure that the voices of women are heard. We were part of making sure women were part of the landmark decision.
Africa notes the UN resolution calling on women to participate equally in peace processes.
Africa also celebrates. Africa has experienced a great deal of conflict, and we need this mechanism, which ensures that women’s rights are protected and that women participate in peace negotiations. We owe it to Africa, we owe it to Namibia and we owe it to you as one of the people we look to as a model. We do not have many women leaders in the position where you are. We need a lot of you.
Ndaitwah: Thank you, Mrs Diop. I totally agree with you. Women of Africa have always linked peace and development. The mother does everything possible to make peace in the family. The same skill must be brought into public life. Otherwise conflicts continue and peace cannot be sustained.
Women from Africa work together under very difficult circumstances. The first woman [prime] Rwandan minister, a young lady, may her soul rest in peace, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, spoke to some of us, concerned about peace in her country. You remember, Mongella was there. We held a conference on women and peace in Rwanda, and after that we organized a group of African women who went to Liberia, as you said. [Agathe Uwilingiyimana was killed in Rwanda’s genocide, alongside ten Belgian soldiers sent to protect her, when she resisted her government’s extremist elements. Gertrude Ibengwe Mongella was the first president of the Pan-African Parliament, Tanzania’s Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women, and UN Assistant Secretary General and a member of the World Health Organization’s reproductive health task force.]
Where women are involved, progress towards peace has been more sustained.
Now in Namibia, when we celebrated the anniversary of Disconnect (United Nations Peacekeeping), we organized the workshop on gender mainstreaming throughout the peace process. We did it based on our experience.
Our independence came through the liberation struggle [against South African apartheid rule], but there were negotiations involved, and women participated. Our first Deputy Prime Minister, Libertina Amathila, was part of our negotiating team. When we went to Geneva for the pre-implementation talks, I was in that delegation too – and many others. It has taught us that women can play a role – not just as victims. This is what led us to where we are.
Resolution 1325 is not fully accepted. We are still far from reaching where we want to reach. But we have learned that progress is seen and more sustained where women are involved. It is very important for people to pay attention.