ACCORD, in collaboration with the African Union (AU), co-hosted the first FemWise-SADC brainstorming meeting to operationalise the FemWise-SADC body and national chapters within the region. The virtual meeting took place on 02 June 2020.
The Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation, also known as FemWise-Africa was created by the AU in 2017 to promote the role of women in peacemaking efforts on the continent. By providing women mediators a platform for advocacy, capacity building and networking, the objective of the group was to ensure peace processes in Africa are shaped by women’s leadership and participation.
The abundant amount of research in the field of women, peace and security (WPS) has identified that many women peacebuilders are more present at the local level and have more experience with Track 3 mediation. This unique position has become ever more important over the last few years as the nature of conflict has become more localized. Thus, the AU and FemWise-Africa realise that the decentralisation of the network will be more effective in enhancing the capacities of women when efforts are undertaken at the regional and national level.
ACCORD thus facilitated a discussion with SADC member states on a solutions-oriented brainstorming session during which focal points from South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Botswana provided updates on the progress made towards establishing their national chapters. Many of the chapters have progressed with recruitment and have engaged in meetings to further develop their chapters. Key challenges facing each chapter were identified, such as defining the answers to important questions like “who are we?” and “who are we not?” It was also identified that many of the challenges were specific to each country’s context and moving forward this would have to be considered while developing a regional strategy.
Consensus was reached on the need for recruitment, capacity building, conflict mapping, and gaining recognition from government ministries. Special attention was given to the issue of elections and how these networks can be utilized to support upcoming elections in the region.
ACCORD remains committed to supporting the meaningful engagement and inclusion of women in peace and mediation efforts; a commitment reflected in ACCORD’s institutional pillars and its support to the AU, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and civil society organisations.