ACCORD will host a ‘Women in Dialogue for Peace in Africa’ study tour and exchange programme to South Africa, for representatives of women’s groups (civil society and government) from five African countries which are in various stages of conflict transformation.
These countries are Sudan (both North and South), Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi and South Africa – selected because of their geographical dispensation, different causes of conflict and the varying levels of effectiveness of women’s organisations in these countries in addressing conflict challenges. The tour will begin in Tshwane on Wednesday, 14 November and will end in Durban on 21 November 2007.
The Dialogue and Study Tour, which is funded by the United States Embassy in Tshwane, forms part of ACCORD’s Gender Programme, which focuses on women in conflict and seeks to strengthen the capacity of women, and women’s organisations in Africa, to better address the challenges facing women as a result of conflict. This initiative is in line with the United Nations (UN) Resolution 1325, which insists on the participation of women in peace processes and the protection of women during armed conflict.
The purpose of the study tour is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to learn from the experience of women’s groups in South Africa. The specific objectives of the study tour will be to provide a platform and space for women to:
- recognise the notable contribution of women as advocates of peace;
- build the capacity of women by imparting conflict handling skills and methods of resolving conflict including preventive diplomacy, advocacy, communication, facilitation, negotiation and mediation; and,
- develop practical approaches on the role of African women in responding to conflict.
The study tour is expected to empower women through information sharing and dialogue. As the sharing of experiences is important for building networks, the expected outputs of the study tour will be:
- to capture relevant strategies for future intervention on gender related issues on the Continent;
- to enable the effective participation of women in peace and political processes; and,
- to equip the women and enable them develop programmes for action for their specific conflict region.
ACCORD has been involved in a number of initiatives regarding women, conflict and peace issues during its fifteen year existence, and has partnered in various research, lobbying and training activities with, among others: the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) – an initiative of the South African Spousal Office; the South African Gender Commission; the NEPAD Gender Task Force, Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS); the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET); Women in Law and Development (WILDAF); ABANTU; IGAD, Women Waging Peace (WWP); Tulane University; and, UNIFEM.
ACCORD is involved in the gender mainstreaming processes of the African Union (AU) and in July 2002 facilitated a historical consultation prior to the inaugural AU Summit which resulted in the ‘Durban Declaration’ calling for gender parity within the newly formed AU – which was endorsed by the Heads of State Summit.
In February 2007, ACCORD hosted a strategy workshop with women constituencies from troop and police contributing countries with a view to developing strategies to support gender-sensitive approaches to peacekeeping, in accordance with national obligations to implement Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.
In recognition of its contribution to gender, peace and security on the Continent and gender mainstreaming in the AU, ACCORD received the Tombouctou Award in June 2006.