The African Union (AU) convened the second General Assembly of the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa). This meeting took place from 29-30 December 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting comprised of institutional as well as thematic discussions on mediation and resource-based conflicts.
The thematic discussion at the General Assembly focused on natural resources, the link to conflict and the impact and role of women in preventing and resolving resource based conflicts. Natural resources such as land, water, timber, minerals, metals and oil are vitally important sources of livelihoods for communities around the globe. They are also sources of income for countries. As climate change continues to affect Africa for example in forms floods, droughts and mud slides, this has further challenged equitable access, further adding pressure to the scarce resources. Moreover, population growth has also added pressure to these already scarce resources. These changes in the environment and armed conflicts usually take a huge toll on people, although it affects women and men differently. The scourge is made worse by women having less access to economic resources, education and legal rights. Interventions around natural resources, environment and climate change provide significant opportunities to empower women politically and economically, and to strengthen their contribution to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Yet, these interventions continue to remain majorly male dominated.
In responding to the natural resource conflict dimensions, the 2nd General Assembly discussed the modalities for the involvement of women in preventing and resolving resource-related conflicts. The meeting also reflected on the challenges women face trying to find livelihoods through natural resources exploitation such as the blue economy and in mining, as well as farming. Given the different ways in which women are affected, the discussions at the General Assembly took note of various frameworks (legal, political as well as economic) that can be applied in resource-based conflicts to improve the interventions through inclusivity of women and gender issues. The 2nd General Assembly discussions further noted that involving women in resolving conflicts is advantageous in that, more often, women are empathic and patient possessing the ability to learn and bringing themselves to the level of those on the ground.
Going forward, the 2nd General Assembly emphasised that women have the capacity to make significant contributions to the resolutions of conflicts in the continent. Many instruments have been adopted by many African states, however, there is still a need to strengthen women’s actions on conflict resolution to ensure that actions translate to solutions, contributing to sustainability of peace in the continent. FemWise-Africa is well poised to undertake these initiatives.
ACCORD remains committed to supporting the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation, a commitment reflected in the institutional pillars and also reflected in the support to the AU.