The African Agenda 2063 aims to achieve an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa for all. It does not only aim to ‘silence the guns but goes on further to call upon state and non-state actors to create peace. The prevailing situation of women across the continent, including high levels of economic disenfranchisement, conflict-related and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, low levels of representation in public decision making, poor access to justice and other remedies, continues to challenge the achievement of this vision. It is only when we secure women’s peace and security interests, as they make up more than half of the continents’ population, that Africa can holistically start to realize this vision. We are still far from there, thus more needs to be done to deepen the implementation of commitments and bring about true change to the situation of women in Africa.
UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 “reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response in post-conflict reconstruction. It stresses the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, but their role remains a work in progress in some African countries, as women’s participation in peace and security is still more symbolic than substantive, and their capacity to influence and engage in peace negotiations is often resisted by local cultural norms and patriarchal hierarchies.
Also, while there has been significant global attention at policy levels to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence during conflict, practice reveals that women and girls continue to be subject to such violence by both military and civilians. In many cases sexual and gender-based violence is seen as an inevitable fact of war. Seifert, (1993)… contends that sexual violence is recognized as a deliberate weapon of war to humiliate and weaken the morale of the perceived enemy, to terrorize populations, and to force the enemy to flee. Men and women are both victims and perpetrators of armed conflict and conflict has strong gendered implications and affects women and men differently.
Other gendered effects occur when girls are recruited as child soldiers, girls and women become internally and externally displaced refugees, and public health services such as reproductive health care are inadequate or unavailable with occurrence of unwanted pregnancies.
Further, Africa has not been immune to the rise of extremism which continues to threaten people’s lives. This is evidenced by the attacks by Boko Haram in North East of Nigeria’s – Yobe state in late December 2003, Al Shabaab in Somalia and many other different terrorist groups in Africa. The consequences have severely been felt by women, girls, children and the elderly than any other categories.
Also, while political elections play a critical role towards the enhancement of democracy by allowing citizens to articulate their interests, in some African countries, among other factors, electoral competition often lead to armed conflicts and violence that threaten people’s lives. This in turn leads to particularly severe effects on women among other categories during and after conflicts. Among the most traumatic of these effects on women are sexual exploitation and violence against women, which lead to profound psychosocial consequences.
In recognition of the need for peace and security in Africa, engaging men and boys in: promoting a free and fair political electoral process; preventing armed conflicts; promoting gender equality; preventing refugee crisis and their effects on women in Africa, is critical. Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa (MEA) in collaboration with Rwanda Men Engage Network represented by Rwanda Men’s Resources Center (RWAMREC), are organizing a high-level meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to share experiences, lessons learned in engaging men and boys to advance peace and security on the Continent as well draw recommendation for implementation of UN Resolution 1325.
1.1. The purpose of the meeting
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss findings, successes, and challenges of various interventions in relation to engaging men and boys for gender equality; management of effects of conflicts on women operationalization of 1325 resolution in MEA, Refugee crisis management and prevention and addressing post-election conflict. Specific attention will be paid to the growing problem of GBV, its implication on women and explore initiatives to address it.
The meeting will bring together Men Engage country networks; government institutions; and civil society partners, donors, UN agencies, Embassies; researchers and other actors relevant to the subject.
1.2. Objectives of the meeting
The meeting intends to:
- Reflect on the effects of conflict on women, what has been done and lessons learnt;
- Discuss the operationalisation of the 1325 resolution in MEA
- Discuss the role of MEA in the prevention of conflict and Management of post-conflict
1.3. Expected results
The high-level meeting will come up with regional clear strategies and resolutions on, for example:
- Cross gender program model across the MEA countries;
- Clear plan on addressing or/and preventing emerging conflicts in Africa;
- Implementation of the Roadmap for the meeting resolutions;
- Reach a consensus on strengthening partnerships and agree on how to identify opportunities for collaboration and points of engagement in addressing conflict.
2. Topics to be discussed
- The effects of conflict on women, achievements, challenges (including violent extremism) lessons learnt and initiatives in place.
- Operationalisation of Resolution 1325 in Men Engage Africa Network and the related challenges.
- Strategies to advocate for the National Action plans related to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 resolution on Women, Peace, and Security.
- The refugee crisis in Africa and its impact on women and girls.
- The role of Men Engage Africa Network in preventing and addressing post-election conflict in Africa.
- Documentation of war crimes and reporting process during and post conflict period.
- Mapping regional strategic partners on conflict prevention and sexual and gender based violence.
- Identify opportunities for collaboration and practically engage in addressing regional conflict that harm women and girls.
See the attached agenda for the next two days.