Strengthening the role of African women in preventive diplomacy and mediation.
Promoting women’s effective participation in conflict mediation and addressing their specific needs in peacemaking efforts is key to sustainable peace. In seeking to contribute to this, ACCORD participated in the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa) first induction training on preventive diplomacy and mediation organised by the African Union (AU) from 21-22 June 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Women play crucial roles before, during and following conflicts, yet their participation and the acknowledgment of that role has been with mixed result and slow progress. Thus, convening this induction training aligns with the AU’s commitment to strengthening the role of women in mediation efforts in the continent. 18 years after United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) (UNSCR 1325) called greater for efforts to increase women’s effective participation in conflict resolution, studies continue to show that women remain under-represented in these processes. While there is no short-term fix to the under-representation of women in conflict resolution, steps continue to be undertaken to address this. In 2017, the AU under the umbrella of the panel of the wise and Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise), established FemWise-Africa Network. Several processes have been put in place to operationalise the Network including a call for applications to join the Network, screening and now the induction training. The induction training brought together African women who had been screened by the FemWise-Africa Secretariat. In supporting these efforts, ACCORD facilitated sessions and contributed to discussions during the training.
The training discussed preventive diplomacy and mediation by the AU and the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs): a legal, normative and institutional introduction. Other issues discussed include the State of Peace and Security in Africa: Emerging Conflict Challenges and Forms of Conflict; the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA): Reflections on Lessons Learned; and women in preventive diplomacy and mediation: issues, opportunities and challenges.
In seeking to strengthen the role of FemWise-Africa in conflict prevention, the induction further discussed Africa’s peace and security landscape with a focus on opportunities for FemWise-Africa. The participants were also taken through linkages between FemWise-Africa and AU Institutions and Structures as well as opportunities for coherence and coordination with regional efforts: perspectives from the RMs/RMs. The facilitators also unpacked the mediation and preventive diplomacy spectrum, with the aim of identifying roles and opportunities for FemWise-Africa. Further, the facilitators analysed the role of FemWise-Africa from a multitrack diplomacy perspective.
Further, the induction discussed the rationale, objectives and work plan of the FemWise-Africa Network. More specifically the induction discussed opportunities and priorities for FemWise-Africa in terms of Accreditation, Outreach and Networking, Training and Capacity Building and Deployments. The induction also gave the participants an opportunity to discuss, reflect and make recommendations on their envisaged roles as FemWise-Africa members.
The training provided a platform for ACCORD to interact and learn from African women working on peace and security as well as a platform to share its mediation support experiences in Africa.
ACCORD remains committed to supporting gender mainstreaming and enhancing women’s participation in peace processes in Africa by the AU and the RECs/RMs.