On Tuesday 8 March 2016, we celebrate International Women’s Day with reflections from women in different AFSC offices throughout Africa. Their inspiring comments on the progress of women everywhere in terms of society, culture, politics and economics also raise critical issues about the role of women as peace makers and their inclusion at higher levels of conflict resolution. They also congratulate Kenya for launching the National Plan of Action (KNAP) for implementation of UNSCR 1325, a bold step in the right direction, as this boosts women participation ahead of elections next year.
Kenya steps it up for gender equality
by Alice Anukur, AFSC Afrcia regional office (Kenya)
Along with everyone who participated at the recent Kenya Peace Conference, AFSC congratulates Kenya for stepping it up in line with the theme for 2016 March 8th International Women’s day by launching UN Security Council resolution 1325, Kenya national action plan (KNAP) .
"This is a good display of President Uhuru’s government commitment made last September 2015 to continue ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making," notes Kennedy Akolo, AFSC Africa regional director.
The launch of the UNSCR 1325 will be a landmark for Kenya as it specifically addresses the situation of women in armed conflict and calls for their participation at all levels of decision-making on conflict resolution and peace building. It recognizes the importance of women’s’ contribution to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building. Its launch and financing will certainly have a positive effect on Kenya’s women’s roles in peace and security, and will likely boost their character as negotiators and mediators in the coming electioneering period.
"This brings Kenya to not only the list of 58 countries that have launched their National Action Plans, but also puts in a better position, the East African Country where women are majority, to contribute in prevention of election violence ahead of 2017 Kenya’s election," says Susan Owiro Chege from Partnership For Peace and Security.
The launch will indeed strengthen platforms for women's participation such as those referred to in lessons learnt of the Africa Renewal by Ms. Amdany saying, ‘’It can be useful if put in place once again for the 2017 general election.”
The role of women in preventing conflict
by Diana Onwenga, AFSC Regional Office (Kenya)
In armed conflict situations, women find themselves victims in terms of lack of security and sexual violence. Even in a post-conflict phase, they are excluded from decision making and participation in economic, social, and political spheres. Furthermore, they are discriminated against in national laws and judicial systems. It is time to change this mindset and recognize the importance of women contribution in society with regards to conflict prevention. Women, who are known within their communities as first responders in providing humanitarian support and assistance, are capable actors towards sustainable peace when they are involved, protected, promoted and supported in their efforts and initiatives.
Women in conflict transformation
by Eliane Ninyonkuru, AFSC Burundi
At birth, boys and girls are equal and are born the same way. Growing up, for those who have the means and the opportunity to go to school, boys and girls are in the same classrooms, have the same teachers, follow the same courses, and even have the same certificates at the end. But a question arises: Why in general are there very few women in the decision-making bodies? Only a small number of women actually participate in formal peace negotiations while they represent different interest groups.
Women are able and have shown their capacity in conflict resolution. Even when children (brothers and sisters) are in conflict, mothers are always there as a bridge to restore good relations. So, why should women not be given more opportunities of restoring relations between countries or various communities? My wish on this women’s day is that every woman should be given her deserved value and be more considered in conflict transformation initiatives around their communities, countries and Domestication of the UN Resolution 1325.
Women and their love of peace
by Angela Nyamweso, AFSC Zimbabwe
Women's negotiation skills and their love for peace are motivational factors for their involvement in conflict prevention. Through participation in national Peace Committees and dialogues they play a significant role in addressing domestic violence and women’s rights. In their quest for social cohesion women are trained in mediation, negotiating, and advocacy techniques to raise awareness of the broader goal of national reconciliation. Advocacy for gender sensitive policies and programs prevent risks of conflict outbreak.
Implementation of UN Resolution 1325
By Chebet Keter, AFSC Regional Office (Kenya)
The implementation and ownership by member countries to the UN Resolution 1325 falls squarely not only on the civil society but more so to all women; to be in the forefront in advocating and implementing the agreement that would enhance women’s participation in decision making in every level of engagement in matters of peace building. Peace is a group effort and for me it starts form the household level. Fellow women, let us arise to be active participants in the mitigation of conflict wherever we are. We are the missing voices in the world today.
By Definate Mudzingwa, AFSC Zimbabwe
There is no easy solution to gender parity, especially when one realizes the unequal status of women, which is complex and requires hard work, genuine commitment, legal, structural, and cultural changes, practical strategies, and more than lip service to women’s issues by both women and men on all fronts. The world can only be peaceful if the environment allows women tap into the latent energy, wisdom, and power within them.