The significance of 2015 continently and globally in the drive for women's empowerment and the achievement of gender equality provides a useful backdrop to assess efforts to use mainstreaming as a tool to bring gender into the equation within peacekeeping and peace and security frameworks in Africa.
Speaking at an African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes women's month event in Mount Edgecombe yesterday, Pillay, a former UN high commissioner for human rights, stressed that the role played by women in society, politics and law had not been sufficient.
August is Women's Month in South Africa and 9 August was Women's Day. Internationally, Women's Day is celebrated in 8 August, but South Africa celebrates Women's Day on 9 August, to commemorate the march on 9 August 1956 by 20,000 women to the Union Building in Pretoria, to protest against the extension of government regulations on the carrying of passes. It was one of the largest anti-government marches in the nation's history and a striking example of solidarity and defiance.
Broad discussion and debate on the nuanced challenges to the achievement of gender parity and women's empowerment in Africa characterised an Internal Staff Seminar (ISS) recently hosted at the Durban offices of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). The presentation provided the foundation for discussions about ways to monitor and address the gap between policy gains from the adoption of international and continental normative frameworks in support of the women, peace and security agenda (WPS) and their practical implementation within the context-specific realities on the ground in different African countries. Participants further delved into the necessity of putting in place measures to translate increased numbers of women in strategic positions into meaningful contributions and impact in African countries.
Codes of conduct, sanctions and stemming the flow of weapons are as important to ending sexual violence in conflict as moral outrage—which is good though not enough. Governments must do more than develop plans and coalitions. International organizations need to force armed groups to choose between sexual violence or their very survival.
Promoting women's capacity to participate in peace processes is crucial for the advancement of women in peace, development and security. This is reflected by the international and regional efforts in the operationalisation of the UNSCR 1325 and other African Union and regional frameworks. Despite the number of declarations, most mediation processes have not offered enough scope that encourages the voices and representation of women.
Women's Month in South Africa gives us an opportunity to reflect on the efforts globally, and on the continent, to advance women's empowerment and gender equality. These efforts have borne fruit and are accelerating. In Africa the initiatives have reached Head of State level, driven by statistics such as the fact that women produce more than 80% of food in Africa but own only approximately 1% of productive lands. To advance their efforts, earlier this year the leaders of Africa participated in the 25th African Union (AU) Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, under the theme 'Women's Empowerment and Development Towards Africa's Agenda 2063'. South Africa's Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, highlighted South Africa's commitment to the theme, noting on behalf of the host country that the empowerment of women is not an act of charity, but a push for a country to operate at full capacity.
ACCORD has participated in the 26th Gender in my Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Pre-Summit Consultative Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming in the African Union (AU) and Member States to support the empowerment of women in all spheres of society.
As part of its efforts to mainstream gender into its activities, the African Union Commission Peace and Security Department (PSD) formulated and commissioned a Gender, Peace and Security Programme (GPSP) under the Peace and Security Department. The GPSP is a flagship programme for the integration of gender into the continental peace and security agenda as well as support to the implementation of global and continental framework for women's increased participation in peace and security.
The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) was recently represented at a Consultative Meeting on UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office's Draft Strategic Plan (2014-17) which aimed to obtain stakeholder feedback and contributions to allow for finalisation of the plan. ACCORD's participation helped to ensure that women, peace, security and conflict resolution objectives and planned activities were strengthened. Deliberations during the meeting aimed to obtain the input of South African partners, although discussions at times took a regional focus.
ACCCORD's Manager for the Interventions Department, Dr. Martha Mutisi, has represented the institution at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Stakeholders' Roundtable on Gender and Development. As one of the few civil society organisations represented, ACCORD is well placed to continue to influence the development of the SADC Gender Unit and contribute to regional initiatives towards gender equity and parity in peace and development processes.
- ACCORD hosts authors' roundtable on 'Women, Peace and Security'
- ACCORD salutes the three women Nobel Peace Laureates for 2011!
- ACCORD trains women mediators and signs MoU with PWMSA
- Accord grants US$30,000 to support fight against sexual gender-based violence
- M&G article: Women 'not worth a dead rat'
- ACCORD presents African vision on UNSCR 1325 to the UN
- ACCORD trains Darfuri women in conflict management, negotiation and facilitation
- Renewed vision for women in peace and security in Africa
- International Women Day celebration
- Gounden Invited to Indian Women in Conflict Management Symposium
- ACCORD Hosts Women in Dialogue for Peace in Africa
- ACCORD participates in Vital Voices trans-regional exchange programme
- Gounden acts as resource to 8WAMM
- DPKO Women's Constituencies Strategy Workshop
- ACCORD participates in African Feminist Forum, Ghana