Women in Africa are engaged at different levels and doing lots of work to promote and sustain peace in the continent. Yet, most of the time their stories go untold due to a lack of systematic documentation and sharing of their work as well as due to lack of access to existing platforms to share their stories. As a result of this, women's peacebuilding efforts have remained largely unrecognized, unsupported, and underfunded. Against this background, the United Nations Secretariat and the African Union Commission have deployed efforts to accelerate progress and deliver on commitments made with regard to the implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda in Africa. Within the broader context of the Joint UN-AU Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, the two organizations have agreed to further enhance their collaboration in the area of women, peace, and security.
In the year 2020, the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) and African Union Commission (AUC) launched a joint initiative to publish a commemorative book portraying the stories of 20 African Women and Women’s Organizations that have made significant contributions in promoting peace and security on the continent. The initiative, titled “She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys”, was part of the activities to mark the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. The book was launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Prime Minister of Norway and the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission at a dedicated side event of the AU Summit on 8th February 2020 in Addis Ababa.
The initiative addressed one common problem faced by women involved in peace and security - the lack of storytelling, acknowledgment, and recognition for their contributions. It, therefore, became a vehicle for making the voices of women heard and underlining the need for the full implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda. The stories provided by the Women featured in the book also revealed that despite their contributions, women’s participation in the peace process remains unrecognized and underfunded, and most of the women featured have either received little financial support or used their own resources to support their initiatives. With a view to addressing some of these challenges, the UNOAU has launched additional initiatives to complement the “She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys” publication. The overall objective is to support African women in their roles as active agents in peace, security, and development processes.
She Stands for Peace Initiative
One of the key follow-up initiatives that have been undertaken by UNOAU is the production and dissemination of "She Stands for Peace" Podcasts. So far, UNOAU has produced two series comprising 22 episodes covering different aspects of the WPS agenda. The Podcast series are providing an opportunity to critically revisit the inclusion of women and associated processes, the expertise and lessons learned that women peace practitioners bring to the forefront both in preventing conflict and supporting post-conflict reconstruction processes.
UNOAU has also continued to tell the stories of African women and their contributions to peace, security, and development in Africa and is in the process of publishing the “She Stands for Peace” E-book, which features the stories of 28 African women and women’s organizations that have made outstanding contributions to peace and security on the continent.
This “She Stands for Peace” interactive website and Community of Practice is another initiative taken by UNOAU to provide a platform for African women engaged in promoting peace and security to interact, learn from one another and get the resources they need to enhance their capacity and engagement in promoting peace and security in Africa.
Posted by UNOAU on 25th January 2022