Africa Cannot Silence The Guns If Women Are Excluded From Peace Processes

Johannesburg — “We can not silence the guns in Africa without the inclusion of women in peace processes. – these were the opening remarks by the African Union Special Envoy Bineta Diop at the Virtual Africa Forum on Women, Peace and Security on November 10.

Organized by African Union Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the forum seeks to accelerate the delivery of commitments of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and scale up actions for silencing the guns for a sustainable peace in Africa.

Africa now has 30 countries with National Action Plans for the implementation of the Women Peace and Security agenda, according to the Implementation of WPS report presented by Dr Jean-Bosco Butera, Special Adviser and Chief of Staff, Office of The Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, African Union Commission.

Butera says most African National Action Plans are well-written, but very few countries can show how these plans are to be translated into action. Which is why the Continental Results Framework for Monitoring and Reporting on the WPS Agenda was created.

There is no doubt that conflict affects women and men differently. Women and children have been shown to suffer the most and are more vulnerable to violent behaviour.

“Criminalise rape, and other forms of sexual violence and other forms of sexual exploitation. The same way the International Criminal Court recognises rape as a crime against humanity – why are our national laws not bold enough on GBV and allow perpetrators to escape the responsibility?” said Aya Chebbi.

Chebbi who is the first-ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth, and the youngest diplomat at the AU Commission chairperson’s Cabinet, says African governments should take a stance on gender-based violence crimes. She says young women and girls feel excluded from peacebuilding initiatives and asked that those in power show solidarity and support to young people when they take steps to silence the guns.

Reychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Kenya agrees, saying political leaders should understand that gender equality is a component of social justice and social justice is a prerequisite for sustainable peace. “You cannot have peace if you do not have justice, equity, fairness not just in the distribution of resources but availing opportunities to all sectors of the society,” Omamo says.

This forum comes a week after the United Nations marked the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, which promoted women’s “equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security”.

Adopted in 2000 by UN Security Council, civil society and United Nations member states, it seeks to address the policy gap in exclusion of women in peacebuilding and the long term impact of armed conflict on women and girls.