AFRICA: African Women Prepare for a Bigger Role in Peacemaking

Saturday, October 1, 2011
Africa Review
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

African women who bear the brunt of the continent's conflicts now demand to play a defining role in peacekeeping.

A resolution to foster women's political participation in the domain of peacekeeping and conflict management was accepted on Friday at the 2011 Women's Platform for Action in Africa (WPAA).

Under the auspices of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the WPAA meeting emphasised the urgent need for better female representation at national levels, where women can actively take part in decisions to prevent war and mediate conflict.

The two-day conference in Midrand came ahead of the second session of the Pan-African Parliament in October.

Gender-based sexual violence, which has become a characteristic of armed conflict, is closely linked to gender relations within that culture, said Francoise Labelle of Mauritius who is second vice-president of PAP.

"It is only if women can play a full and equal part in the mediation processes that we will be able to build a foundation of peace," Labelle said.

This year marks the 11th year of United Nations' resolution 1325, which addresses women's rights in war conflict, peace negotiation and reconstruction processes.

It also urges increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes.

However, there has never been a female UN chief peace negotiator and women constitute less than eight per cent of negotiating delegations in peace processes mediated by the UN, while less than three per cent are peace agreement signatories.