Since June 2021, ACCORD has been hosting conflict management training sessions for a cohort of women-led non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) across the nine provinces in South Africa. These trainings, are a part of a broader initiative that endeavours to strengthen the capacity of these organisations in order to build the conflict management, facilitation, and mediation capacities at the grassroots level. The COVID-19 pandemic has been central in highlighting how women have been effective peacebuilders within several communities. As such, this initiative aims to pilot women-led local peacebuilding in the country by means of technological access and empowerment.
On the 30th of June 2021, ACCORD hosted the first knowledge sharing session where the group engaged with the African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to end Child Marriages, Dr Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda. Dr Nyaradzayi, a seasoned peacebuilder and mediator, shared her lived experience with the women and emphasised the importance of understanding that we collectively belong. Using her personal story as a local peacebuilder within her rural community in Zimbabwe, Dr Nyaradzayi was able to demonstration that peacebuilding is a process that involves interacting with and understanding the different contexts of those in a given community and that everyone else is either an enabler or a facilitator.
Dr Nyaradzayi also spoke on resilience, and what it means for her. “Resilience for me, starts with us remaining connected and not existing in self isolation. Resilience is about sisterhood and solidarity, sharing and extending our hands to our neighbours and sisters”. Furthermore, Dr Nyaradzayi asserted that resilience cannot be equated with perpetual charity, that, investments are needed. As such, the entrepreneurship and innovation of women in communities deserves to be nurtured and supported! Essentially, when women come together to engage in innovative communal activities – that is when community cohesion is birthed. ACCORD remains grateful to Dr Nyaradzayi for being an exemplary women’s rights and peace advocate, and for her representation and influence in the WPS sector. The session, facilitated by Ms. Karishma Rajoo, ACCORD’s General Manager of Programmes, proved to offer a cushion of support and motivation to these women peacebuilders, especially during the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This initiative locates itself in ACCORD strategic pillar 3: Enhanced Role of Women in Peace Processes and furthermore, is part of the broader agenda of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.
ACCORD looks forward to hosting more sessions that will promote and support the meaningful engagement and participation of South African women in peace and mediation efforts.