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SADC makes commendable efforts to streamline gender into Region’s peace and security mechanisms

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has made commendable efforts to mainstream gender into the Region’s peace and security mechanisms and processes to address the specific challenges faced by women and girls since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and other subsequent resolutions. This was said by Ambassador Lucy Mungoma, Chairperson of the SADC Mediation Reference Group (MRG), at the opening of a specialised training workshop for staff of the SADC Secretariat and MRG members on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.

The training workshop, running from 5th to 8th July 2022, was convened by SADC Secretariat, supported by the European Union (EU), and in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Service Centre for Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa. The workshop seeks to raise awareness on the importance of the WPS Agenda and to facilitate an understanding of the existing global and regional normative frameworks such as the UNSCR 1325 and its subsequent resolutions, the African Union Continental Result Framework (AU-CRF) 2018-2028 and SADC Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (2018-2030). The workshop is also expected to enhance ability of SADC Secretariat officers and MRG Members to competently mainstream gender in the SADC peace and security interventions, including peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping.

The WPS Agenda refers to actions and processes to protect women and girls from the disproportionate effects of violent conflicts and insecurity, support their contributions to peace efforts in conflict and post-conflict situations and enhance their participation in decision-making for peacebuilding, peacemaking, peacekeeping processes.

Ambassador Mungoma said to date, six SADC Member States namely, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa have developed and are implementing national action plans (NAPs) on WPS, while other Member States are at advanced stages of finalising their NAPs. She said despite some challenges in implementing the UNSCR 1325 in SADC Region, there has been substantial progress in the Region in women representation and participation in politics and decision-making positions at different levels.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Ayodele Odusola, applauded the considerable progress and efforts that have been made at both the continental and regional level to advance the WPS Agenda especially following the adoption of UNSCR 1325 in the year 2000. At the SADC level, a number of regional frameworks and strategies that outline the specific objectives, mechanisms and targets to attain peace and security, women’s empowerment and gender equality have been adopted and operationalised. Mr Odusola reiterated the UNDP’s continued support for SADC’s commitment to advance gender and women empowerment, including women peace and security agenda in the Region, particularly in rolling out the implementation of the AUC-Continental Result Framework and SADC-Regional Strategy on WPS.

Mr Odusola said the participation of women is critical to the success of any peace-building process because if half the population is excluded from peace-building processes, peace will be impossible to achieve and that the involvement of women in peace-building brings on board an element of inclusiveness and a new perspective to the table.

Dr Kondwani Chirambo, Coordinator of the Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region, said in order to strengthen the capacity of Infrastructures for Peace (I4Ps) at the SADC level, the Secretariat conducted a mapping exercise of regional and national I4Ps to identify their capacities, challenges and resources. The I4Ps are defined in terms of policies, strategies, plans, physical infrastructure, strategic partnerships and human capacities possessed by our trainees. Consequently, the operationalisation of the WPS Agenda falls under the enhancement of capacity of state and non–state I4Ps at national and regional levels in conflict prevention, management and resolution to effectively and peacefully address conflicts.

Ms. Tsitsi Fungurani, Senior Development Officer, Government of Canada said that the women, peace and security agenda is a central piece of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, which includes the Feminist International Assistance Policy and Defence Policy. She said Canada is convinced that sustainable peace is only possible when women are fully involved in the resolution of conflict, and peace and security efforts and that more inclusive, gender-equal and peaceful societies are possible when women participate and lead in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state building.