Virtual High-Level Dialogue on Advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda: Political Leadership, Partnerships and Concrete Action Beyond 2020

1 Dec 2020

Virtual High-Level Dialogue on Advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda: Political Leadership, Partnerships and Concrete Action Beyond 2020

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) hosted a two-day High-Level Dialogue (HLD) to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. Under the theme, ‘Advancing the WPS Agenda: Political Leadership, Partnerships and Concrete Action Beyond 2020’, the HLD was held virtually on 30 November and 1 December 2020, and was organized in partnership with Sweden and the Kingdom of Norway.

The HLD provided a platform for African women to engage and share their experiences in addressing WPS agenda and in strengthening partnerships for its delivery as set in the African Union’s flagship initiative ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa’. The two-day HLD was moderated by CNN Newsroom anchor, Zain Asher.

At the opening session, H.E. Hanna Tetteh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Head of UNOAU welcomed participants by underscoring that, “we want to use this platform to create an agenda for implementation so that in African countries where internal conflicts have constrained the opportunities for communities to live in peace, we can ensure that women participate in all stages of the peace process and through their efforts they can create the platforms for greater gender equality and participation.”

SRSG Tetteh continued to emphasize that the WPS agenda must be central in all stages of analysis, planning, implementation and reporting. She re-committed to work with the AU, member states and other UN agencies to ensure the development and implementation of action-oriented activities.

Speaking at the opening session, H.E. Mme. Bineta Diop, the AUC Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security said, “Africa has been at the forefront of enhancing accountability and delivery on the commitments for the WPS Agenda.  With the adoption of the Continental Results Framework (CRF) in 2018, member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) committed to submitting annual reports that serve as the basis for the reports of the AUC Chairperson on the implementation of the WPS agenda. Key findings of the 2019 report were submitted to the Peace and Security Council in the open session held on 5 October 2020. They showed a stronger engagement Member States to reporting, that constitutes a solid basis for delivery on the key pillars of the WPS agenda. This year, we have 30 member states and 6 Regional Economic Communities/Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) that have adopted Action Plans. We do anticipate that with the trends we see with the reporting using the CRF, and our continued support, Member States will escalate actions in the various pillars. We know that progress remains short of targets. Nevertheless, various crises situations have shown that women are central to peace and reconstruction efforts and are resilient in the face of all the diversity.”

H.E. Hans Henric Lundquist, the Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia in his opening remarks noted that the “past 20 years of monitoring, measuring, and highlighting the Women, Peace, and Security agenda has raised awareness and increased our joint understanding. Now the coming 10 years must become the decade of delivery – as it is simply yet articulately put in our common 2030 Agenda. With the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325, there is a clear momentum that should be seized to place women's full enjoyment of their rights at the core of international peace and security. This is not a women's issue. It is a peace and security issue, necessary to successfully respond to the crises we face: More women, more peace. The frameworks and tools are put in place – now it is up to us to make it happen.”

H.E. Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary, Kingdom of Norway in his opening remarks said, “If we want to build resilient, lasting peace, owned and implemented by the people affected, we need to involve women and men on an equal footing in politics, and to participate on the ground, in mediation teams and in security forces. Ensuring that women and girls are engaged in peace and security efforts is a global commitment. Effective implementation of UNSCR 1325 requires partnerships and cooperation at global, regional and national levels and the strong partnership between the UN and the AU that we see here today is an excellent example”.

H.E. Ambassador Minata Cessouma, AUC Commissioner for Political Affairs shared remarks on the second day in which she emphasized that 20 years after the adoption of UNSCR 1325, Africa has still not met all the objectives because conflicts of stakeholders impede the realization of those objectives. She continued to say that due attention needs to be given by all actors involved in implementing the WPS agenda in the region to broaden the political space for women, and young women in particular, by critically assessing and addressing the challenges women face in participating in leadership and politics. 

The first day of the HLD covered discussions and reflections on the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in shaping public and government agenda and creating the political will for action, the main roadblocks to implementation of the existing normative frameworks and National Action Plans on WPS in Africa, strengthening responsiveness and accountability frameworks, strengthening youth engagement, and how partnerships can be used to support effective engagement on this issue and the role of member states.

The second day of the HLD covered discussions on challenges women in Africa face in peace processes and state-building, the link between broadening the space to engage women and girls in localization efforts and sustainable development, key factors that perpetuate violence against women (VAW) and VAW in politics using digital media.

Speakers included H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, H.E. Catherine Mwangi Ambassador of Kenya to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, H.E. Osama Abdel Khalek, Ambassador of Egypt to the African Union, H.E. Hope Kivengere, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls Movement, Gemima Neves Barlow NDI Deputy Regional Director for Southern and East Africa, Martha Tukahirwa, Regional Advocacy and Communications Officer, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network), Päivi Kannisto, UN Women Chief of  Peace and Security, Mohamed Edabbar, AU Youth Ambassador For Peace (AYAP) and Hester Adriana Paneras, Head of Institutional and Operational Partnership Service, UNOAU.

The outcomes from discussions will be used to build consensus on key actions moving forward.