Division for the Advancement of Women
Department of Economic and Social Affairs


Regional consultation on Enhancing Women's Participation in Peace-building

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
23-25 April 2001

A. Introduction

The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the African Centre for Women of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) will jointly organize, in close collaboration with the African Women's Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD), and with the participation of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and Departm0000ent of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO), a regional consultation from 23-25 April 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to review the current situation of women's participation in peace-building and identify areas where women's role needs to be strengthened. The meeting will be hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The consultation is an essential step of the project funded under the development dividend to strengthen women's capacity to effectively participate in the peace-building process as a follow-up activity to the Beijing Platform for Action Item E: Women and Armed Conflict, the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women: 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century", as well as the Security Council Resolution 1325.

B. Background

The nature of conflict has changed significantly over the past decades. Traditional forms of conflict, such as inter-State ones have been increasingly replaced by intra-state conflicts increasingly involving non-state actors. There is a systematic disregard for international humanitarian law with recurrent attacks on civilians and violations of human rights either by state forces or militia groups. Consequently, civilians have gradually replaced the military as strategic targets. They represent the largest proportion of victims, are forced out of their communities and are deprived of their basic right to survival and personal security. Some become internally displaced people (IDPs), others join the swelling ranks of refugees. Amidst these socio-economic upheavals, women tend to bear the brunt of the burden since they are often responsible for household food security and family subsistence.

Nonetheless, women are not just victims of war but can also be peace-makers and builders. In fact, such a role is crucial in both conflict and post-conflict stages as "women are better equipped than men to prevent or resolve conflicts" . However, their role and potential contribution to durable peace have yet to be fully recognized. The proportion of women during negotiations for conflict prevention/resolution and/or post-conflict peace building is alarmingly low especially since women play a significant part in the reconstruction and transformation of war-torn areas.

Over the past decades, the United Nations has clearly determined the importance of women's contribution to peace. The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) identified women and armed conflict as one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action. Furthermore, during International Women's Day, 8 March 2000, with the theme "Women Uniting for Peace," several UN entities emphasised the importance of women's involvement in peace activities. The President of the Security Council on behalf of the Security Council stressed the need for adequate representation of women at all decision-making levels with regard to conflict resolution. The recommendations of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century," held from 5 to 9 June 2000, called for the strengthening of "the capacity of women affected by situations of armed conflict" and the "full and equal participation of women in the promotion of peace".

Recognizing the importance of the issue of women and armed conflict, the President of the Security Council (Namibia) sponsored on 24 and 25 October 2000 an open discussion on the topic "Women, Peace and Security" in the Security Council. At the discussion, the Secretary-General, delegates and representatives of UN agencies underlined the importance of protecting women in armed conflict as well as ensuring that women participate in the peace process. In addition, the Security Council reaffirmed, "the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building", and stressed "the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security" (S/RES/1325, preamble).

On 8 March 2001, the issue of women and peace was, once again, selected as a central theme for International Women's Day. During a panel discussion moderated by Ms King, the Deputy Secretary-General stated that women can be a powerful force for peace and reconciliation and must be more effectively integrated in the peace process. The President of the Security Council stressed the need for full implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325 by all stakeholders. He urged all relevant United Nations agencies and bodies to take into account this resolution in their respective areas of work. The President of the General Assembly stressed the need to promote equal participation of women in all forums and peace activities at all levels, particularly at the decision-making level, and to integrate a gender perspective in conflict resolution.

UN agencies and the civil society have carried out various initiatives to mainstream a gender perspective in their policies, programmes and projects. In this context, the Division for the Advancement of Women has carried out various initiatives, including Expert Group Meetings, such as "Political Decision-making and Conflict Resolution: the Impact of Gender Difference" in 1996 in Dominican Republic, and a panel discussion during Beijing +5 (June 2000) on the issue of Gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations. The Division for the Advancement of Women also participated in a workshop in 1999 in Uppsala, where a DPKO study entitled "Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Operations (July 2000)" was launched.

C. Objectives and Organization of the Consultation

The women and peace-building project aims to enhance the role of women and strengthen their capacity to effectively participate in and contribute to post-conflict peace-building process.

The consultation specifically aims to:

  1. Review current initiatives in relation to women and peace-building to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Identify capacity building needs for women to enhance their contribution to the peace process.

D. Expected Outputs

(a) direct outputs:

(b) indirect outputs:

E. Participants and Administrative Matters

The consultation will be prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women and in collaboration with ECA, OAU, and AWCPD. Overall organizational responsibility for the consultation preparations and conduct is with DAW/DESA and ECA.

DAW will be responsible for:

As the official host institution, ECA will be responsible for all other organizational arrangements for the consultation, including the following services and facilities:

  1. Administrative and support personnel including secretarial assistance;
  2. Office supplies, stationery, office and reproduction equipment such as personal computers, typewriters and duplicating machines;
  3. Transportation between the airport and hotel at arrival and departure days for participants and UN/DESA and DPA staff;
  4. Transportation between the hotel and conference facilities, if required;
  5. Access to telephone, telefax and telex services;
  6. Conference rooms, meeting facilities and office space as required;
  7. Audio-visual aids relevant to the meeting, such as overhead projector, flip charts, etc; and
  8. Assistance in arranging hotel accommodation, and change or confirmations of return flight reservations for participants.

Venue and Participants

The consultation will be conducted at the ECA Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is scheduled to take place from 23 to 25 April 2001.

The number of participants will be between 45 to 50. (A list of suggested participants is attached.) They will include:

  1. Governments [suggested countries: Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d"Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda];
  2. Representatives from sub-regional organizations (SADC, ECOWAS, IGAD);
  3. Representatives from selected NGOs (international and regional);
  4. Researcher/Scholar from South Africa;
  5. Donor countries (Canadian International Development Agency and Swedish International Development Agency);
  6. Representatives from OAU, AWCPD, DPA, DPKO, UNDP, UNIFEM, and other UN agencies located in the region; and
  7. UNDESA/DAW and ECA secretariat for meeting preparations and follow-up.

ECA will arrange travel and daily subsistence allowance (DSA) for participants from other countries.

Language of the consultation

The working language of the consultation will be English with interpretation from and to French. Documentation for the consultation will be provided in English.

Passports and Visas

Participants will be expected to make necessary arrangements with regard to passports, visa and health certificates for travel and consultation attendance.

F. Report and Publications

Background document(s) for the consultation will be prepared by DAW/DESA. A consultation report will be prepared by a consultant/facilitator and will be published jointly by DAW/DESA, DPA, DPKO,

ECA, OAU and AWCPD following the conclusion of the workshop.

All relevant correspondence should be addressed to:
Fatiha Serour
Task Force Manager
Tel. (212) 963 8379
Fax. (212) 963 3463
E-mail serour@un.org