On 19 July 2021, ACCORD partnered with the Gertrude Shope Women Mediators Network in organising the South African Women’s Peace Table. The virtual event was convened as a result of the social and political instability that erupted in South Africa on July 12, 2021. The forum brought together various women peacebuilders and a diverse range of stakeholders nationwide, who actively promote and advocate for peace and security from different cross sections of society within the country. The Peace Table sought to , engage in conflict de-escalation, management and prevention; create unity of purpose and social cohesion; and rebuild South Africa’s peace infrastructure.
The dialogue was opened by South Africa’s Women, Peace and Security focal person, Ms. Charlotte Lobe. Ms Lobe reflected on the necessity of the Peace Table, asserting that the dialogue will assist in the unpacking and understanding of the drivers of conflict, its impact on the country’s democracy and economy, and the necessary steps that are needed to move forward in order to restore peace and enable justice to transpire. Among the keynote speakers, Mme Gertrude Shope, highlighted that South African women have an important duty to uphold in ensuring that the conflict is nullified and the country returns to what it used to be and what it ought to be. This was further echoed by Mme Brigalia Bam who further asserted that with the implementation of South Africa’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, there was no better time for the Peace Table to drive efforts that will contribute to the participation, prevention and protection of the women, youth and men of the country during this nationwide conflict.
There was also a plethora of messages of support that came from a range of individuals and organisations that included the UN Women and the AU Office of Special Envoy. ACCORD’s Advisor on Women Peace and Security, Ms. Pravina Makan-Lakha participated in the panel discussion on the nature and impact of conflicts. The dialogue, chaired by Professor Cheryl Hendricks, brought together seasoned professionals, practitioners and academics within the peace and security space to deepen their understanding of conflict drivers and to unpack the multi fold response that would be needed. Panellists that contributed to the discussions included, Febe Potgieter, Pregs Govender, Welile Nhlapo, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, Gabrielle Faber and Namane Magau.
Participants were commissioned into six breakaway rooms where they deliberated on recommendations, suggestions and solutions on how the country could move forward in Conflict prevention; reconciliation; post-conflict reconstruction/psychosocial support; economic and gender justice; humanitarian relief; and youth peace journey.
A myriad of recommendations was developed in each commission and these highlighted the need to develop and implement conflict prevention mechanisms which draw on indigenous knowledge and traditional peacebuilding apparatus, at all levels. Through the dialogue, participants were reminded that peacebuilding is a process, one in which women, youth, disabled and other marginalised communities play a meaningful role.
This initiative locates itself in ACCORD strategic pillar 3: Enhanced Role of Women in Peace Processes and furthermore, it is part of the broader agenda of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. ACCORD looks forward to participating in future Peace Tables and providing a platform for all to converge, engage, and develop appropriate actions to prevent further conflict.