African women have been and continue to be at the forefront of peace efforts across the continent, yet their roles and contributions to conflict prevention and resolution continue to be undervalued, overlooked, and reduced to anecdotes. Despite international and continental commitments to increase women’s participation in mediation and peace processes, progress has been slow and the exclusion of women from peace processes remains the order of the day.
To promote the role of women in peacemaking efforts on the African continent, the AU established the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation, FemWise-Africa. The Network provides a platform for strategic advocacy, capacity building, and networking aimed at professionalizing the role of women in preventive diplomacy and mediation, and advancing the implementation of policies and frameworks for women’s meaningful and effective inclusion in peace efforts in Africa.
The African Union (AU) convened the fifth Executive Steering Committee Meeting and the third General Assembly of FemWise-Africa from 25-27 November 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Steering Committee examined the progress of the activities undertaken in 2019 and discussed means to further strengthen the operationalisation of the Network. ACCORD was represented by Mrs Pravina Makan-Lakha, General Manager of Operations and Business Development.
The 3rd General Assembly was co-chaired by H.E. Mme Catherine Samba-Panza, former President of the Central African Republic (the first woman to hold the post of head of state in the country) and H.E. Dr Speciosa Wandira, the first African woman to hold the position of Vice-President (Uganda). The Secretariat opened with a recap of the activities implemented in 2018 and presented an overview of FemWise-Africa’s structures, code of conduct and operationalisation modalities. The second day focused on experience sharing and reflection on the roles and contributions of the FemWise-Africa members to recent and ongoing mediation and peace efforts. The participants also discussed the structural and systemic barriers facing women mediators; exchanging experiences and practical tools to address these challenges. The meeting concluded with a set of recommendations aimed at strengthening the operationalisation of FemWise-Africa, advancing its agenda, and furthering its reach and impact.
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.