Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), more than 11 Regional Action Plans (RAPs) have been adopted globally. In Africa, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) have been at the forefront of developing the various RAPs, namely the East African Community (EAC); Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS); the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); and most recently the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
As of the year 2022, Africa has 35 NAPs. This makes the continent a global leader in the adoption of NAPs.Tweet
Globally, more than 85 National Action Plans (NAPs) have been developed, with some countries having even developed second, third, and fourth-generation NAPs. As of the year 2022, Africa has 35 NAPs. This makes the continent a global leader in the adoption of NAPs. In particular, this is of great significance to Africa given the prevalence of violence, conflict, and wars on the continent and the dire consequences they have for men, women and children. Women and girls suffer from widespread atrocities, discrimination, and violence including sexual violence, rape, and mutilation, to mention a few. In spite of all this, Africa remains the driving force behind the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. It is evident that the AU, and RECs/RMs and National governments have invested some effort in achieving the goals set forth in the resolution through the adoption of NAPs. While RAPs play a critical role in setting the tone for NAPs development, much needs to be done to support Member States in localising the WPS agenda.
In the Southern African Region only six out of 16 Member States namely, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa have developed and are implementing their NAPs, while the other Member States are at advanced stages of finalising their respective NAPs.
Looking at the Southern African region’s progress on implementation of UNSCR 1325, SADC took various steps to encourage and assist member states in developing NAPs. First, it commissioned an assessment of the challenges and progress of each member state, and secondly, produced a report that outlines the region’s overview of the WPS agenda indicating both challenges and progress to date in the region. The report also provides an overview of the progress thus far of countries that are still in the process of developing NAPs.
Whilst recognising the significant strides made in the region, more needs to be done to institutionalise the WPS agenda within the region. In the process of developing and implementing NAPs, member states faced a number of challenges which include poor stakeholder buy-in, budgetary constraints at all levels, and lack of technical knowledge and overall support for drafting NAPs. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major setback, affecting many countries’ processes. In spite of the challenges, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, eSwatini and Lesotho are very close to finalising their NAPs.
Recently, the SADC Secretariat, in collaboration with various partners, organised a Regional Consultation on the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the SADC Region. It was held within the framework of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Project on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa. The consultation aimed to enhance the capacity of RECs and other Civil Society partners towards supporting their Member States in fulfilling their gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments in the realisation of Agenda 2063. As a result, SADC member states, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders shared a united voice towards strengthening women’s leadership and decision-making in peace and security processes at national, regional, and local levels, and stimulated SADC Member States’ support to advance the WPS Agenda.
After reflecting on their progress as a region, Member states pondered on one unanswered question: “what does successful implementation of the WPS agenda look like?”
It is recognised that the monitoring and evaluation of the WPS agenda is one of the key challenges. A key mechanism used to monitor and evaluate the WPS agenda, specifically the implementation of NAPs on the Continent, is the African Union Continental Results Framework (AU CRF) which was launched in 2019 by the AU Special Envoy for WPS. The Framework is voluntary and encourages member states with NAPs to report on their progress, gaps and planning. Thereafter, an Annual Africa Status Report of WPS will be drafted by the Office of the Special Envoy. Reports serve as evidence of efforts, advocacy, and accountability.
Member states with NAPs lack adequate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, hindering their ability to report on the agenda. In the SADC region, one SADC Member state is currently reporting and utilising the AU CRF indicators. However, other member states have yet to report on their progress in implementing the NAPs as they are still looking for appropriate data collection mechanisms. However, it is well noted that countries without NAPs have no formal national, regional and continental reporting mechanism in place. Furthermore, there are no guidelines on how to measure progress whilst developing a NAP. It is not just when a country has a national action plan that the WPS Agenda begins and ends.
Their implementation efforts and contributions cannot be accurately assessed in their countries, regions, and continents. Zimbabwe and Botswana have put in place legislation, initiatives and policies to advance the WPS agenda in their countries, but they lack National Action Plans. This does not take away from their process of developing their NAPS. However, there is a huge gap between those who are implementing the agenda and not counted and those who are counted because of the NAPs.
One out of the sixteen SADC Member states has reported on their work and implementation of their NAP. The other five member countries that have NAPs will start reporting, leaving the 10 member states who are doing tremendous work not reporting. In assessing the impact and implementation of this agenda, every effort and contribution must be taken into consideration. This is because while progress has been impressive, implementation has been below expectations mainly because NAPs and strategies across the continent have largely remained as ends rather than means.
To accelerate the implementation of UNSCR 1325, it is imperative that member states, RECs and the AU develop effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the region.Tweet
To accelerate the implementation of UNSCR 1325, it is imperative that member states, RECs and the AU develop effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the region. This applies to both countries with NAPs and those without NAPs. Moreover, it is necessary to develop effective data collection mechanisms among member states, not only for signposting changes, but also to strengthen advocacy efforts to implement the WPS Agenda.
Thokozile Nkgundima is a programme administrator at ACCORD.