International Peace Day – Actions for Women’s Peace: Prioritising Good Governance, Inclusivity and Non-violence

Women’s International Peace Centre joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Peace Day under this year’s theme, “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals.” The theme is a call to action that underscores our individual and collective roles in fostering a world where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not just aspirations but realities—a world where the achievement of these goals paves the way for a culture of peace for all. We recognise that SDG16+[1] on peaceful, just and inclusive societies directly addresses the challenge of fragility and is a vital accelerator of Agenda 2030. However, progress on SDG16+ is poorer[2] than on almost any other SDG. Present global trends are discouraging as violence targeting civilians is becoming increasingly more common and deadly[3].

The Russia-Ukraine war has overshadowed all other conflicts, both in the sheer scale of violence and its deadliness, thus concealing a significant overall deterioration of the security situation in most other regions worldwide. The war, coupled with Russian military influence in Africa including the use of private military contractors like the Wagner Group in Mozambique and the Sahelian States of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, has exacerbated conflicts in these regions, leading to increased instability on the continent. The proliferation of military bases, weapons and ammunitions as witnessed in Sudan has transformed[4] violent acts into more complex war-like scenarios.

In such conflicts,  women often bear the brunt of violence and insecurity. For instance, as the war in Sudan rages on, gender-based violence (including conflict-related sexual violence) is a major concern, with an estimated 2.7 million women and girls at risk[5] due to the disruption of services and lawlessness as a result of the conflict. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, 2,204[6] women and girls reported sexual violence to health facilities between November 2020 and June 2021. One of the one-stop centres reported that the victims in over 90% of cases were underage girls and estimated that visits to the centre had quadrupled since the conflict erupted in 2020.

Women in Africa continue to be relegated to the margins and their participation in peace negotiations is starkly hindered by the militarisation of peace processes. During the Luanda and Nairobi peace consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), women were significantly absent. Likewise, in the Chad peace talks in Doha in 2022, there was only one woman among the over 50 participants[7] present. In the current Sudan crisis, women have been significantly excluded from the formal ceasefire negotiations despite glaring evidence that they are effective in driving political transition and advocating for sustainable peace and stability.

The sobering reality in the DRC and South Sudan as the two countries prepare for elections serves as a stark testament to the persistent and deeply troubling trend of women’s ongoing exclusion from vital political processes. There are reports of rising violence against women, political leaders and activists in the DRC. Women also face barriers to vote, such as the lack of voter documentation required for registration and the general lack of information on electoral procedures, especially in the more isolated rural areas in North Kivu, Ituri and Mai-Ndombe which are currently under the control of armed groups.  Women voters in rural and remote areas in South Sudan still lack access to credible information about the electoral process. Refugees and internally displaced women face challenges of restricted mobility and the lack of necessary identification documents to register and participate in the election process.

As the world celebrates this day of non-violence and cessation of hostilities, we re-echo the ideals envisioned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.  We emphasize that Actions for Women’s Peace include: advocating for women’s safe, meaningful and effective participation in peace processes as a fundamental component of sustainable peace; supporting efforts that prioritize non-violent conflict resolution and mediation, with a gender-sensitive approach that acknowledges the distinct experiences and needs of women in conflict zones; and standing against all forms of gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, which often escalates during conflicts, we therefore:

  1. Call for a shift towards promoting credible elections and good governance in Africa, including comprehensive electoral reforms, encompassing transparent voter registration and robust mechanisms to prevent electoral fraud which will strengthen the integrity of elections to increase public trust in democratic process. Strong institutions, the rule of law, and respect for human rights should also be promoted as fundamental components of good governance.
  2. Urge the prioritisation of inclusive and non-violent approaches to peacebuilding, with a central focus on dialogue as a means to achieve stable and sustainable ceasefires. These approaches should also aim to prevent the escalation of conflict and ensure the protection of civilians.
  3. Encourage governments to reduce military expenditures and redirect resources away from excessive military spending towards social services. This reallocation of resources should address the immediate needs of communities, rectify governance deficits, improve quality of life, and contribute to global stability.

[1] “SDG16+” refers here to the targets established under SDG16 as well as 36 targets from 7 other goals that directly measure an aspect of peace, justice or inclusion


[3] Global Disorder in 2022


[5] Sudan. 2022 HNO: IM Global GBV Country | Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility (

[6] Assessing the State of SRHR in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries in Africa

[7] 2022  Women and peace and security Report of the Secretary-General

Key Messages of the Convening on Women’s Leadership in Peace Building in the Great Lakes region of Africa

Forty women leaders from Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda gathered in Kampala over the past 3 days to discuss important issues of peace and security in the Great Lakes region. We reflected on the realities of the region, which continues to be faced with intractable conflicts and on the situations in our countries. Our primary focus is on the roles of women in building peace and in reconstruction; on addressing sexual violence, during and after conflict; as well as the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and lasting peace in the Great Lakes region

In the conflict-affected countries of the region, we note that there are strong national and regional laws, policy instruments and government structures to address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, including the Kampala Declaration of the International Conference of the Great Lakes region on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. However these laws are not being fully implemented and we continue to witness alarming rates of sexual violence ranging from rape to sex trafficking to domestic violence, with great impunity for those who commit these crimes and little support or justice for survivors.

As a result, efforts to prevent sexual violence are inadequate and we find that those who provide services to survivors of sexual violence such as the police, judicial and health workers are ill equipped to provide the required support and end impunity.

In certain contexts such as within refugee settlements, police stations often lack family and child protection units and structural factors increase women and girls risk of sexual violence such as the lack of light at water-fetching points and communal latrines. Initiatives that address the challenges of SGBV such as recovery centres or one-stop shelters are underfunded and unable to address survivors’ material needs such as clothes or sanitary pads. Women interested in cross-border business face additional huddles due to a lack of clear trade policies, limited access to information on taxation or direct support to women’s entrepreneurship efforts. Overall, there is limited support for survivors of sexual violence to reintegrate into the community, receive psychosocial support and earn a sustainable living.

We therefore call on governments to prioritise funding and implementation of progressive national policies on sexual and gender-based violence. We also stress the importance of a holistic 360 degree approach to supporting survivors of sexual violence that address their wellbeing mentally, economically, physically and in accessing justice.

It is widely acknowledged that women’s leadership is central to building peace in the home, in the community and within the larger society. Women have taken part in local and national peace processes in Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda to ensure an inclusive and sustainable peace. Governments of the region have also acknowledged women’s critical role in peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery through national, regional and international laws and policies on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. However, progress in ensuring women’s critical role in peace processes and security governance is slow. This is often constrained further by women’s exclusion from spaces and processes that are viewed as the preserve of men such as national peace talks or mediation processes. This is made even worse by limited support for local women’s groups and women-led organisations that are important in humanitarian settings as women are often the first responders in times of emergency.

We therefore call on governments and development partners to include women leaders in key decision-making processes, increase support for women’s roles in peace and security as well as directly support the work of local women’s groups in conflict and crisis-affected settings.

With the expansion of the mining and extractive industry in the region and the increasing acquisition of land for the same, the rights of women and girls as well as lasting peace, are at risk. There are growing reports of compulsory land acquisition by governments with minimal say of its occupants and women tend to have no say at all. The compensation is often inadequate and not equivalent to the value of the assets on land. This also focuses on ownership of land under customary tenure where men have custody and ignores women’s land user rights despite their critical roles in agriculture, feeding households and earning their livelihoods off the land.

We call on governments to ensure free prior informed consent whenever acquiring land for the mining industry or agribusinesses so communities including women are fully engaged and involved in decision-making on these matters. Governments should ensure that in addition to companies conducting environmental impact assessments they assess the social impact of companies’ acquisition of land and what it means for women’s access to livelihoods, water and other resources as well as the impact on sustained peace.


Get the latest

Do you have questions?


Visit us

Plot 1467, Church Road, Bulindo,

Kira, Wakiso

© 2020 WIPC All rights reserved.