Cape Town – Between the Covid-19 pandemic, regional conflicts, severe sexual and gender-based violence, as well as ongoing economic hardships, women in Africa are facing hardships that require a combination of education, government intervention, and men and society’s readjustment. These were some of the summaries of the third and final day of the African Forum on Women Peace and Security.
In part 2, all Africans Andre van Wyk summarizes the rest of the findings of the working groups that participated in the Forum’s discussions.
Preventive diplomacy and mediation
Pravina Makan-Lakha, General Manager of Operations at the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disput (ACCORD), was the fifth speaker to present the findings of her working group, one represented by various countries, including Uganda, Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Mali, Burundi, South Africa, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and the diaspora.
“Participants brought their insights from the roles they play in preventive diplomacy and mediation,” Makan-Lakha said before moving on to the reflections of her working group. “The key point is that the gaps and implementation of the normative gains of the WPS agenda cannot remain, and this refers to the inclusion of women in peace processes with the emphasis on female meaningful leadership and mediation,” Makan-Lakha said .
The second consultation of Makan-Lakh’s working group related to the decoupling of processes in countries where the adoption of the national action plan does not translate to all sectors, with an example. “When a political crisis hits a country, it affects the gaps in the implementation of policy commitments and implementation plans and agendas, and it drives it further,” Makan-Lakha said. “We were too polite, as another point. , about the long struggle – and the group was very radical at this point – about gender inequality and our experience with mediation practice. “
Makan-Lakha’s next point relates to the systemic and institutionalized challenges that women have to navigate under patriarchal power structures. Referring to the feminist agenda, human safety, the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact, Makan-Lakha shared a set of recommendations by her working group. “This first recommendation, in our view, was that it is important to build a culture of peace through our actions going forward using technology, media and the time for new messages driven by urgency,” Makan-Lakha said. .
“Incorporating a change of attitude towards women, peace and security that does not make it a women’s issue, but a human rights issue across the continent and around the world,” Makan-Lakha added. The second point recommended by the Makan-Lakha Working Group was the need for stronger alliance building and the linking of the WPS agenda to the Global Peace and Security Order.
The third recommendation of the group was to strengthen the role of women at grassroots level and to strengthen the ties between them and those at continental level.
The fourth recommendation of the group was to redefine the power relationship between women peace builders, informal and intergovernmental structures, civil society, women at grassroots level and to demonstrate the feminist way of power with not the power.
Makan-Lakha then discusses the group’s fifth recommendation, which was to maximize existing hard-won progress. Makan-Lakha said, like FemWise-Africa, to bring about the government’s commitments to conflict prevention and mediation efforts.
The involvement of men was the sixth point of Makan-Lakha’s group. “Use men’s power as inner circles to advance gaps in implementation. We have identified in our reviews and held them accountable to the feminist movement if they claim to be champions,” Makan-Lakha said.
The group’s final recommendation was a redesign of the peace table. “The peace table must be owned and led by women,” Makan-Lakha sai concluded.
The participation of women in peace operations
Gloria Jaase-Nkundanyirazo, Women and Child Protection Officer for the Mission of the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM), was the next speaker to present the findings of her working group on the role of women in peacekeeping in the context of UN Resolution 1325 Security Council presented.
Jaase-Nkundanyirazo explained that some of the roles played by female peacekeepers include hostile involvement, combat support such as nurses and doctors and individual police officers (IPOs). “We have also supported our female peacekeepers through AMISOM civilian technical resources to be at the forefront of combating conflict-related SGBV,” Jaase said.
She posed the question of how female peacekeepers can be seen participating in peace work, and not just as a theoretical form of aid compared to their male counterparts. “There are measures that AMISOM has put in place to ensure the participation of women. It starts directly with the deployment of it to make sure that women are included to participate in the areas I mentioned. AMISOM is equipped with gender officers and protection of human rights officers leading a mission to ensure gender outreach in all these activities, ‘said Jaase-Nkundanyirazo.
The next focus was the establishment of female involvement teams. “It’s made specifically of female-only personnel – police and military. The reason we did that is because, as I mentioned earlier, there are areas where AMISOM works alone and there are no humanitarian aid workers and that “These places are not conducive to civilian personnel,” she explained. “Only female teams respond first,” Jaase-Nkundanyirazo said, addressing SGBV and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and child protection issues.
According to Jaase, there are only women’s teams that enter into discussions with women’s organizations at a local level to inform them of political activities such as upcoming elections and other issues that may concern women in terms of peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
Jaase-Nkundanyirazo also spoke about AMISOM’s creation of ‘gender banks’ in Somalia’s police stations. “It is intended to monitor protection issues in terms of domestic violence and SGBV, as well as all cases of CRSV reported,” she said. It is then overseen by AMISOM gender coordinators across the country, who then work with female IPOs.
And concluded by saying that AMISOM has stepped up efforts to cooperate with the Somali government by cooperating in a number of areas, including the eradication of child recruitment and the prevention of violent extremism.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic
Amina Helal, an associate of Women, Peace and Security Program at the Cairo International Center for Peace, shared her group’s findings on the impact of the global novel coronavirus outbreak on WPS efforts in Africa.
Helal started by summarizing her group’s most important discussion points. “This year provides an appropriate time to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the WPS agenda, as 2020 celebrates the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council 1325,” she said.
“Covid-19 is, of course, a magnifying glass of existing inequalities,” Helal added. According to Helal, the outbreak indicated increased rates of GBV. However, it also provides an opportunity for women to play a greater role in mediation and peace processes. Helal said that her group also discussed women at grassroots level and that community level played important roles in the WPS agenda as peace builders and by having roles in the Covid-19 response.
Helal explains the group’s focus on three according to the three pillars of the WPS agenda, which began with prevention. “Exclusions have increased the rate of violence. It has also increased poverty and gender inequality,” she said. “We also talked about protection, so the risk of food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Reproductive health services also carry risks due to the pandemic, Helal said. “It has caused great problems for women, especially women in conflict areas,” Helal said. The last pillar of women’s participation talked about how even with Covid-19, the gender imbalance in peacekeeping and mediation efforts remained the same before the virus’ arrival on the continent.
The role of traditional and social media during the pandemic was also emphasized. “It helped by putting women’s issues, GBV and gender inequality at the center,” Helal said. “It is very important to build on this for the WPS agenda,” she added.
In the recommendations of her group, Helal said that national action plans are important, but supplemented by being important to the national level of expertise needed to handle Covid-19. “There is also a need for a greater focus on women and other stakeholders such as men and boys to be part of the WPS agenda and to work with women’s organizations to achieve better results in this regard,” he said. Helal said.
Closures affected women at various levels outside of health, Helal said. “Women are economically affected as breadwinners of their families. It is important to emphasize in the recommendations, as we have already discussed women as victims of GBV and other socio-political aspects, but economically women faced cruel conditions during the crisis. , “said Helal. said and added that women also played a crucial role in building community resilience during the pandemic.
The role of civil society in silencing arms across Africa during 2020
The last speaker to present the findings of their working group to the panel was Nontobeko Gcabashe, Program Officer on Peacebuilding and Local and National Peace Capabilities at ACCORD. Gcabashe also took the opportunity to share the progress with the Gender is My Agenda campaign (GIMAC). “GIMAC is a network of more than 55 civic organizations that promote gender equality and women’s rights accountability,” Gcabashe said. During its recent bi-monthly meeting of women’s rights organizations, stakeholders promoted the rights of African women and girls in Africa. Union’s processes, “she said.
Gcabashe said GIMAC convened the 36th Virtual Consultative Meeting to recognize and strengthen the women and girls’ agency to silence guns in Africa, and therefore convened the 36th Virtual Consultation Meeting to discuss how gaps can be identified, recommendations can become and provide space for strategic involvement for key stakeholders. “GIMAC’s dialogue and discussions are brought together around six thematic groups,” she added. “These include peace and security, government, human rights, education, health and economic empowerment.”
According to Gcabashe, the discussions of GIMAC highlighted youth participation and focused on the six thematic areas. The body also asked for several recommendations, Gcabashe noted. “GIMAC calls for the full implementation of AU instruments to promote the role of women in firing guns, to promote the meaningful and effective implementation of national action plans, to enforce gender equality in peace processes, conflict mitigation processes and also the under-representation of to address women in politics, ‘she said.
“We further support the AU roadmap on gun silence and call for the involvement and inclusion of refugees in all efforts to silence gun in Africa,” Gcabashe added, concluding by saying that GIMAC had asked for the disarmament and proliferation of arms, addressing the socio-political impact of Covid-19 on the continent and providing resources and financial inclusion to support women.