ACCORD, in collaboration with the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA), steered the Regional Faith Women Mediator’s Network (REFWOMEN) Forum. The Forum provided a platform for women to learn and share experiences on the peace and security efforts in the region while validating and deepening their understanding of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.
Ms. Elizabeth Lwanga, an expert in peace and security, facilitated the Forum which took place from 23-24 September 2021. Members of the network highlighted their emerging issues in relation to women, youth, and Covid-19. The knowledge sharing and discussions shed light on how women and youth are disproportionally affected by Covid-19 and provided an in-depth overview of social, economic, and political challenges that women face. Ms Lwanga elaborated and unpacked the key issues exacerbated by the pandemic which includes domestic violence, teenage pregnancies, unemployment, political instability, conflict, and crime. The facilitator, with members of the network were able to devise various entry points that support advocacy for women and youth. These deliberation points included, addressing increased violence terrorism; intolerance to a culture of peace; advocacy for women’s participation in decision making; and representation targeting 50/50 parity amongst others.
The Forum concluded with the validation of the Regional Advocacy Strategy on UNSCR 1325 and 2250, and the survey on the Advocacy Strategy on UNSCR 1325 and 2250. Father Elias Opongo from Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR), a notable religious leader recognized the validation process and offered various advocacy strategies that FECCLAHA and the network can apply in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and UNSCR 2250. The strategies were based on the pillars of UNSCR 1325 which are participation, protection, relief and recovery, and disengagement and reintegration. Members were left hopeful with the role religious leaders can play in discovering the potential of change in the region, and this serves as a good indication of the need to continue dialogue with the Faith women network and the youth in the region.
The network agreed to host regular engagements with its members and remains committed to establishing a ‘REFYOUTH’ that will capacitate youth in addressing their challenges. Further expected outcomes include the sharing of resources to address issues affecting women especially victims of Gender-based violence, allowance for religious leaders’ participation in solution-based campaigns, and educating members and communities about Covid-19 and Sexual reproduction health.
The REFWOMEN’s mandate aligns with ACCORD’s strategy on enhancing the role of women in peace processes. ACCORD will continue to encourage networks like FECCLAHA and other key stakeholders on the continent in its commitment to promoting regional collaboration that advocates for the inclusion of women and youth issues of peace and security in Africa.