SADC workshop hears peace not possible if half the population is excluded

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A recent workshop demonstrated just how much women are integral to peace and security in southern Africa stressing their involvement the three “Ps” – peace-making, peacebuilding and peacekeeping.

Efforts to date to mainstream gender into Southern African Development Community (SADC) peace and security mechanisms as well as process “specific challenges” faced by women and girls are, according to Lucy Mungoma, who chairs the regional bloc mediation reference group (MRG), “commendable”. She was speaking at a specialised training workshop for SADC Secretariat staff and MRG members of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda.

The WPS agenda refers to actions and processes to protect women and girls from “disproportionate effects” of violent conflicts and insecurity; support their contributions to peace efforts in conflict and post-conflict situations and enhance their participation in three “Ps” decision making.

To date six SADC member countries – Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa have developed and are implementing national WPS action plans with others at “advanced stages” of finalising their plan Mungoma told the workshop.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) resident representative Ayodele Odusol said a number of regional frameworks and strategies outlining  objectives, mechanisms and targets to attain peace and security, women’s empowerment and gender equality have been adopted and operationalised.

On the importance of involving women in peace operations from conception to conclusion, Odusol pointed out if half the population is excluded from peacebuilding processes, peace will be impossible to achieve.

Another voice at the workshop to stress the importance of women in peace operations was Canadian government senior development officer Tsitsi Fungurani.

She said her country remains convinced sustainable peace is only possible when women are fully involved conflict resolution and peace and security efforts adding more inclusive, gender equal and peaceful societies are possible when women participate and lead in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict state building.