South Sudan assented to the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250 highlighting the important role of young women in promoting peace and security. The 2015-2020 National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and Related Resolutions also represents this commitment to i) increase women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the maintenance of peace and security, and guaranteeing their participation in post-conflict peacebuilding, ii) enable peace and security stakeholders in South Sudan to galvanise their efforts and ensure improved implementation of gender-sensitive peace and security-focused initiatives at national and state levels and iii) ensuring the inclusion of women and girls’ needs in the national budgetary priorities of the transitional assistance plans developed by the Government and all programmes funded by development partners, including in the negotiations of the New Compact Deal. The government of South Sudan, through the national steering committee as well as inter-ministerial committee charged with monitoring implementation progress, has invited diverse stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the plan or to strengthening the local capacities for the implementation.
Despite the existence of these commitments, frameworks and mechanisms, there are insufficient attempts to promote young women’s participation in peace processes, to amplify their voices or to influence in favour of their specific priorities. Since the outbreak of armed conflict in December 2013, the resurgence in July 2016 and with on-going efforts to resolve conflicts and to reconstruct, young women’s critical role in formal peacebuilding and conflict resolution has been under-explored despite their informal contributions. The Women’s International Peace Centre is partnering with the Centre of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) to strengthen young women’s capacity to participate in and influence peace processes and their outcomes from a gender perspective in South Sudan. In the framework of this partnership, the WIPC brought together 20 young women aged 18 to 35 from political parties and civil society organisations for a 5-day training. The focus of the training was to equip young women in South Sudan for information gathering, data verification and gendered analysis of conflict trends, dynamics and their significance for on-going peace processes. The training also built their understanding of relevant national, regional and international policy frameworks, of on-going national peace processes, national and regional mechanisms as well as key women, peace and security thematic areas. This workshop aimed at building capacity for advocacy and collective action while enabling the creation of new spaces for them to engage key decision-makers at the national level. Additionally, it provided a space for intergenerational dialogue with older women peacebuilders and leaders for cross-learning and potential mentorship.
The end of this decade presents a strategic opportunity for women’s rights advocates working towards the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Great Lakes Region to collectively reflect, look ahead, and prepare to take fruitful action. In 2020, the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) by the African Union comes to an end. The same year marks 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The year 2020 will also be the 20th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Within the Great Lakes Region, women’s rights organisations have been monitoring progress and advocating for the implementation of diverse regional and national instruments. While there has been some progress, a significant implementation gap remains and the WPS agenda is yet to be achieved.
It is in this context that Global Fund for Women and the Women’s International Peace Centre co-created a space for regional exchange for three days. From the 12th to the 14th November, 48 women human rights activists and organizations from Burundi, CAR, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda came to Kampala to convene on peacebuilding, ending sexual and gender-based violence, and combatting the negative impact of the extractive industry on peace and women’s rights. Together, they assessed the progress and gaps in the WPS agenda in the region and defined a creative common vision and agenda for feminist peacebuilding.
The overall objective of the convening was to engage in key conversations and exchanges around how to strengthen our collective capacity to promote women’s leadership in peacebuilding and reconstruction, address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, and address the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and lasting peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
On the first day, an opening session with keynotes on women, peace and security in the Great Lakes Region kicked off the convening. It was followed by a lively discussion. Hereafter, representatives of key regional mechanisms such at the ICGLR Regional Training Facility and Women’s Forum, the African Union FemWise-African Network of Women Mediators and women mediators’ networks in Burundi shared about their work and gave participants the opportunity to ask questions. The day was rounded off by plenary sessions on good practices and strategies in regional advocacy and action as well as about feminist peacebuilding strategies.
The second day started off with three thematic panels. Civil society actors discussed and presented on progress, best practices and lessons learnt on the topics of women’s leadership in peacebuilding, sexual and gender-based violence, and women’s access to and control of natural resources and the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and regional peace. The division in break-out groups gave the practitioners the reflective space to assess what has worked and what has not and identify key areas for collective action and advocacy. The day ended with a plenary discussion on emerging security threats and implications for work in the field of women, peace and security and a talk on wellness, self-care, safety and integrated security for women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders.
The final day of the convening was dedicated to defining a common vision and collective action to advance the WPS Agenda in the Great Lakes Region in 2020 and beyond. Therefore, the participants first discussed key action points in-country groups before presenting their findings to the plenary. They talked about their vision for women in peace and security for the upcoming decade, in which ways the existing instruments could help to promote this vision and which kind of change they would like to see for African women in the area of peace and security. The outcome was a collective roadmap defining windows of opportunity for the WPS Agenda beyond 2020.
Since the introduction of multi-party politics in 1988, Uganda has not experienced peaceful, violent free democratic electoral processes. Uganda’s elections continue to be characterised by violence, ballot stuffing, altering of results and in the end a myriad of election petitions. The political environment in the build-up to, during and after elections has become increasingly charged with a number of reports of harassment, intimidation, acts of corruption, human rights abuses perpetrated by different political nemesis over the years. While the government has enacted laws on guiding the electoral processes such as the Presidential Elections Act and the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005 gaps were identified by the Supreme Court in its ruling on petitions made it to court in 2006 and 2016 with the greatest challenge in the conduction of democratic elections being the conflicts that emerge before, during and especially after elections.
With funding from Democracy Governance Facility (DGF), The Peace Centre is implementing a project ‘Promoting Women’s Effective Participation in Peaceful Electoral Processes in Uganda’aimed at improving women’s engagement and influence on electoral processes. In its initial stages, the project will focus on broader interventions covering pre-election, election and post-election processes and shall be implemented in the districts of Arua, Kapelebyong and Kassanda respectively. The project builds on the success of The Centres’ implementation of the Women’s Situation Room composed of the youth peer-to-peer peace process and women advocates for peace programmes implemented in the build-up to, during and in the after-math of Uganda’s 2016 general elections. In addition, the project also contributes to DGF’s higher-level outcome proportion of population satisfied with the way democracy works in Uganda and DGF higher-level indicator ‘proportion of population who believe decision making is inclusive and responsive’.
The Open Letter to the Group of Friends of 1325 calls on governments to accelerate commitments on Women, Peace and Security as part of their work on sustainable development, including on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.
This letter is in advance of the 24th-25th September SDG Summit, which will also launch the 2019-2020 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) Review Process and where
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced a series of conflicts since gaining independence in the 1960s with an impact on the governance and livelihoods of the citizens and spill-over to the neighbouring countries of the Great Lakes Region. A number of dialogues have been initiated through the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region; the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework for DRC and others. The DRC has launched its second-generation NAP and has been upfront in providing relevant frameworks to promote the women, peace and security agenda. DRC is also emerging from an electoral process held on 30th December 2018 that has brought in new leadership at different levels. Women have played a significant role in all these peacebuilding and governance processes.
In this regard, The Centre has in partnership with Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle Association des Femmes Des Medias and the Ministry of Gender,Family and Children conducted a five-day leadership institute from 20th to 26th June, bringing together 20 women leaders from political parties and the civil society on the topic “Women’s Political Participation for Peace and Security”. The training aimed to strengthen the capacity of women leaders to engage in and influence post-conflict decision-making and governance as well as to demand accountability from policymakers towards realising the meaningful inclusion of women in governance and decision-making in Democratic Republic of Congo -.
Participants looked at the background and context of Women, peace and security Participants looked at Transformative Leadership, Feminist Leadership, Communication in Leadership, training on UNSCR 1325, and coaching in Women’s Participation in leadership.
The Centre with support from African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) are implementing a 2yr project on “Women Leading Change In Post Conflict Governance” in South Sudan focused on supporting advocacy for the implementation of the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 for the inclusion of a significant number of women in implementation of the peace agreement and in mediation processes. The project also seeks to enable national monitoring and reporting on 1325 implementation progress against the AU Continental Results Framework in an effort to advance the women, peace and security agenda. Our mission to Juba, South Sudan on 15th April introduced the project to the Ministry of Gender and targeted women’s rights organisations working on UNSCR 1325 as well as gather key information on the current status of women’s participation in post-conflict governance and 1325 NAP implementation.
Gender-responsive governance reforms are intended to connect the numeric and the substantive representation of women. Gender-responsive governance ensures that institutions respond more effectively to women’s needs and priorities; enhance women’s wellbeing, livelihoods and citizen-ship rights; and build government institutions that require and produce more participation by women, and not only by women elites, but also by grassroots women.
Women’s International Peace Centre hosted a side event on 15th March 2019 on Gender Responsive Social Protection in conflict affected settings focused on feminist peace and social protection for women affected by conflict the margins of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) speaking to the priority theme: Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
Women leaders from Liberia, Nepal and Uganda shared research findings, lived experiences of women and lessons from programming in post-conflict settings to shed light on the needs and expectations of women and girls affected by conflict in relation to recovering from shocks, building resilience, accessing inclusive gender-responsive public services and true social protection.
The discussion focused on the findings of the study by The Centre/Tilburg, Makerere and Mbarara Universities on the Cost-Benefit of Social Protection Schemes such as cash transfer programmes and post trauma services for the empowerment of women in post-conflict Northern Uganda. The findings were reflected on using the realities in post-conflict, post- Liberia Ebola crisis with specific cases demonstrating the scale of trauma and its impact on the success of cash programmes for women (shared by My Voice My Safety/Ministry of Gender, Liberia) and the challenges of women’s rights and peace building in Nepal, in the absence of knowledge on the centrality of holistic trauma relief (by National Association of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) Nepal) with closing reflections from Cordaid Women Peace and Security Advisor.
We also organized a joint event on improving social protection outcomes for conflict-affected and grassroots women with Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), Action Aid and the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security hosted by the AU Permanent Mission to the UN on 15th March 2019.
Authors; Helen Kezie-Nwoha and Juliet Were
The ‘Women and Peacebuilding in Africa’ project looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace talks, peacebuilding, and politics in Somalia, Algeria, northern Nigeria, South Sudan, and Sudan. The project also examines the struggle for women’s rights legal reform and political representation as one important arena for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa.
The three themes that make up the project are:
- Inclusion and exclusion in postconflict governance
- Women activists’ informal peacebuilding strategies
- Women’s legal rights as a site of contestation
The ‘Women and Peacebuilding in Africa’ project is a consortium between Center for Research on Gender and Women at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) and Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE). The project is funded by the Carnegie Foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This edition focuses on the women, peace and security issues discussed during the institute, as informed by the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 and 2250, Sustainable Development Goals (5, 16) and related national frameworks (including national action plans). It takes a closer look at the state of conflict and post-conflict in the 5 countries, progress in implementing UNSCR 1325 which centres women’s concerns as well as women’s responses to peace and security gaps and challenges.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison in partnership with African researchers, Isis Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) and Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) are conducting a research project that looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace processes, peacebuilding, and politics in countries affected by war in Africa. The research project also examines the struggle for women’s rights, legal reform and political representation as one important arena for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa. Lessons from these experiences have policy implications for ongoing conflicts elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East. The research consortium is based at three research centers in the United States of America (US), Norway and Uganda, including nine experienced researchers. The research is being carried out in Somalia, Algeria, Northern Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan. The three themes of the research include:
- Inclusion and Exclusion in Post-Conflict Governance (Somalia and Algeria),
- Women Activists’ Informal Peacebuilding Strategies (South Sudan and Northern Nigeria)
- Women’s Legal Rights as a Site of Contestation in North Africa (Sudan and Algeria).
Conflict in Africa has changed in nature and has become more intractable as the causes and solutions are more complex. Today, conflicts manifest further through activities of terrorist groups and election violence. The rise, for example, of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia, Ansar Dine in Mali, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQUIM) in Algeria and Mali, Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in West Africa in Mali (MUJAO), and other Islamic groups influenced by Salafism and other conservative ideologies, is posing new challenges to these societies. Women often find themselves at the front lines of war, not only as victims but also as prime opponents of some of the more extremist trends in affected countries.
The research is being conducted in five countries in Africa that have experienced or are currently experiencing conflict, to examine the role women have played in peacebuilding at the formal and informal levels and also look at the gains of inclusion and costs of their exclusion. The findings will be composed into case studies and overall comparative findings and a book along with other publications and policy briefs. The project will also hold international conferences and a meeting between women activists and stakeholders in participating countries.
The conference convened a consortium of researchers and women activists working on peace building initiatives in Africa; it also involved those who informed the research. The team of women activists and peace builders joined together in sisterhood to learn from each other what has worked in promoting peace and what gaps remain. Uganda was selected to host the conference because of the country’s long experience in conflict and currently hosting over a million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda. Despite the silence of guns, Uganda itself is not yet at peace. The conference centered on the following objectives; Facilitate dialogue and learning around women’s participation and role in Peace building. Provide a platform for cross cultural exchange and learning amongst women peace builders in Africa.