I would like to welcome you to this important workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to enhance women's capacities in conflict management, to strengthen government/NGO partnerships on peace and development and to support women's networking for peace and security in Africa.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Rwanda for hosting this workshop, in particular, Her Excellency, Madame Marie Mukantabana, Minster for Gender and Women Promotion. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to benefit from the Rwandan experience.
My sincere appreciation goes to Mr. Macharia Kamau, UN Resident Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative, for the excellent collaboration with UNDP in the organization of the workshop.
I would like to thank and congratulate Ms. Saran Daraba, President of the Mano River Women Peace Network, for her tireless efforts in promoting peace in the Mano River sub-region. She is here with us to share the experience of women's struggle in bringing peace and security in the Mano River Union, including I am sure also the very recent efforts in Liberia.
I also acknowledge the contributions of Ms. Bineta Diop, Executive Director of the Femme Africa Solidarite, (who unfortunately was not able to join us) to the past work of the Division for the Advancement of Women on women in conflict management and her collaboration with other prominent African women to enhance women's role and participation in peace processes in Africa. The election of five women commissioners in the African Union is indeed a major step forward.
Finally, I would also like to thank Ms. Lazarus of the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) for their role in the organization and implementation of this work shop. Also my thanks goes to Hon Dorothy Mutubatse, member of the South African Parliament, for being here with us to share her experience of South African women in their efforts to engender the peace process and democracy in South Africa
Allow me to touch briefly on the background of this workshop.
Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, adopted in October 2000, calls on all actors to adopt a gender perspective when negotiating and implementing peace agreements and to address the special needs of women and girls during repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution also calls for measures to ensure the protection of and respect for women's human rights, particularly as they relate to the constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary, and encourages all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to consider the different needs of female and male ex-combatants.
Resolution 1325 also requested the Secretary-General to prepare a study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution. Based on the findings of the study, the Secretary-General submitted a report on women, peace and security to the Security Council in October 2002. On 31 October 2002, a Security Council Presidential Statement reaffirmed the Council's commitment to the full implementation of resolution 1325. It urged the Secretary-General to increase the number of women serving as special representatives or special envoys and to ensure that all reports on peacekeeping missions to the Council systematically address gender perspectives.
The Security Council committed itself to integrate gender perspectives into the mandates of all missions and to integrate gender perspectives into the terms of reference of its visits and missions to countries and regions in conflict. The Council encouraged the Member States and the Secretary-General to establish regular contacts with local women's groups and networks and to ensure their active involvement in reconstruction processes, particularly at decision-making levels. To facilitate contacts with women's groups and networks, and to support greater attention to gender perspectives and women's concerns in these visits and missions, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a database of gender specialists and women's groups and networks in countries and regions in conflict.
The Secretary-General's study highlighted that the lack of mechanisms for bringing the priorities and recommendations of women's informal groups and networks into more formal peace processes has been a particular constraint. Although the understanding of the contributions women can, and do, make to peace-building and peace-keeping through informal processes is increasing, with few exceptions women are not present in formal peace negotiations. Where women are present, it is usually due to the concerted efforts of women's groups and networks. The study calls for greater representation of women in formal peace negotiations and incorporation of gender perspectives in conflict prevention activities and in negotiation of peace accords.
For a number of years the Division for the Advancement of Women has been working to support the enhancement of the role and capacity of women in peace-building and peace-making in Africa. As a first step, the Division and the African Centre for Women of ECA jointly organized a regional consultation meeting in April 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in close collaboration with the African Women's Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD). Participants at the regional coordination meeting included representatives of the Organization for African Unity (now African Union (AU)), government officials and NGO leaderships from thirteen African countries, as well as representatives of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO).
The consultation aimed to review the current situation regarding women's participation in peace building as well as identify areas where women's roles need to be strengthened. This consultation identified a number of priority areas: launching and supporting a women's peace network in the Great Lakes Region; training women in political skills, including communication, mediation and negotiation, as well as training in stress and trauma healing and counseling and in early warning methods; developing training of trainers in the region; and building support for alliances between grassroots, national, regional and international women's groups.
In the consultation in Addis Ababa in April 2001, the Mano River Women Peace Network (MARWOPNET) was identified as an excellent initiative, which could be replicated in the Great Lakes Region. The work of the MARWOPNET clearly illustrates the importance of collaboration between neighboring countries, and the value of establishing sub-regional mechanisms to promote peace and prevent recurrence of conflicts. We continue to have much to learn from the experiences of MARWOPNET.
To address some of the capacity building needs identified in the consultation meeting, the Division for the Advancement of Women organized a training workshop on “Conflict Management for Women”, in close collaboration with the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) of the University of Cape Town, in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2001. An advanced training workshop focusing on the Mano River sub-region was held in Conakry, Guinea, in October 2003. Building on the outcomes of these two workshops, this initiative in Rwanda aims to enhance the capacity of women in mediation and negotiation, and develop other skills related to conflict resolution and peace negotiation, as well as support women's networking for peace and security, in the Great Lakes Region. Participants at this workshop come from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
I am also very pleased to be able to inform you that the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will consider the theme: “women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building” in March 2004. In order to assist the Commission in its preparations for this work, the Division for the Advancement of Women is organizing an Expert Group Meeting on "Peace agreements as a means for promoting gender equality and ensuring participation of women – A framework of model provisions". Peace agreements are crucial components of the peace process in providing the framework for the reconstruction of political, legal, economic and social structures. Their content has a direct bearing on women's participation – on both their inclusion in formal peace negotiations and their involvement in post-conflict peace-building. Explicit attention to the participation of women, and reflection of gender perspectives in such agreements, is crucial to ensure that peace agreements fully address the gender-specific consequences of armed conflict, the needs and priorities of women and girls in the aftermath of conflict, and their participation in the reconstruction of post-conflict societies, and thus – most importantly - in the prevention of future conflict.
Concrete and practical tools are needed to strengthen gender perspectives in peace agreements. One such tool is model provisions for peace agreements, which can set standards to be met with respect to the participation of women and incorporation of gender perspectives in reconstruction, and in particular in the development of legislative, judicial, political, electoral, economic and social structures in post-conflict societies. I look forward to sharing with you, at a later date, the outcomes of the expert group meeting and the deliberations in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
I am confident that the workshop this week will provide the opportunity for participants to enhance capacity in these areas, as well as support women's networking for peace and security in Africa. I regret that I am unable to attend the workshop - to learn from the experiences of each of you present today and to personally express my strong support to you in your capacity as peace-makers and peace-builders. I wish you a very productive workshop and look forward to future contact and collaboration. The Division for the Advancement is committed to supporting your efforts in whatever way possible.