ECOWAS and UNOAU Jointly Commemorate UNSCR 1325 anniversary
On 21st December 2020, UNOAU and the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) jointly organized a one-day virtual event as part of the series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325. The theme: “Looking Backward, Re-strategizing for the Future”, was intended to provide the opportunity to not only take stock of the progress the region has made in implementing the WPS agenda, but also to critically review and identify gaps in the implementation, challenges and chart concrete actions building on lessons learnt. The event was funded through the WPS project in UNOAU supported by the Government of Sweden.
The meeting was attended by the Special Representative to the African Union and Head of UNOAU, Hanna Tetteh, Ms. Finda Koroma Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Mr. Carl Michael Gräns Ambassador of Sweden to Nigeria, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, General Francis A. Behanzin Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Sweden, African Union FemWise mediators in West Africa, UNICEF, UNODC, UNFPA, WANEP, WACSI, WACSOF and other regional networks.
In her opening remarks, SRSG Hanna Tetteh welcomed the partnership between the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations Office to the African Union, recognizing that it critical for collective efforts to promote peace, security and development, and the ‘Africa We Want’ as expressed in Agenda 2063. She appreciated the important work of the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation. She pointed out that the women, peace and security agenda is primarily about the inclusion of women in peace processes and in political leadership, and the respect for the rights of women and their protection against violence and abuse. She recommended that countries in political transition like Mali should prioritize representation of women, and emphasized that representation must go beyond being nominally present at the table and ensure that women’s representatives are empowered and committed to actively participate in peace and political processes, rather than appearing to be mere tokenism.
The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun and ECOWAS H.E. Mr. Carl Michael Grans, who was represented by Mr. Jorgen Karlsson, called for more funding for women, peace and security programmes by ECOWAS Member States. He also committed to seek for ways to support the ECOWAS region in advancing the WPS agenda. The meeting was also addressed by the ECOWAS Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne. The Commissioner noted that assessments conducted in countries in the West African Region has shown that women remain excluded from national and community-level peace building processes and structures where vital decisions that shape their present and future are taken. She called upon ECOWAS member states and its partners to ensure that women are not marginalized from national and regional Infrastructures for Peace. Speaking of ECOWAS’s future plan towards the actualization of the aims of UNSCR 1325, she pointed out that the ECOWAS secretariat will be engaged in the institutionalization and operationalization of the FemWise West Africa and other Female Networks established by ECOWAS.
The meeting committed to organizing further actions to enhance the voices of the regional civil society networks and to strengthen the role of women community peace builders in conflict prevention, in the region. Member States were urged to provide sufficient resources for the implementation of National Action Plans; to strengthen protection of women and prevention of GBV; as well as to commit to investing more in monitoring, evaluation and strengthen accountability. The meeting also agreed to enhance community involvement in peace building and support intergenerational engagement and co-leadership in order to encourage the participation and role of the Youth in peace, security and development nexus as a strategy for sustainable peace in the region and accelerate the implementation of the WPS agenda.