Addis Ababa, 2 June 2014:  A major five-year Gender, Peace and Security Programme has been launched today at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa by the AU Commission.  The Programme is designed to serve as a framework for the development of effective strategies and mechanisms for women’s increased participation in the promotion of peace and security.  It is also designed to enhance protection of women in conflict and post-conflict situations in Africa.  

In his opening remarks to launch the Programme, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, highlighted the role of women on issues of peace and security in Africa.  Addressing conflict-related sexual violence and the targeting of women in armed conflict, he said that this has “attained proportions such that they have become a security concern in some areas of the continent.”  He added that “men can no longer take a back seat in the process of fighting against sexual violence, thinking this only an issue for women.” 

Also speaking at the launch, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Women Peace and Security, Madame Bineta Diop, said “We have to send strong messages that impunity will not prevail.  We must mainstream gender issues for institutions, and for laws against harassment and abuse, and hold perpetrators of abuse to account.” 

The five year (2015-2020) Gender Peace and Security Programme is funded by the Austrian Development Corporation, following an agreement signed with the AU Commission in November 2013.  This morning’s launch began a two-day workshop to review and endorse the Programme.  Among other outcomes, the workshop seeks to draft a work plan for the period January to December 2015.  Participants at the workshop include representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the United Nations, civil society organisations, development partners and relevant AU Commission Departments.  


The African Union Commission Peace and Security Department has taken bold steps to addressing issues of gender, women,  peace and security as part of its strategy and work programme through the formulation of a five year Gender peace and security programme designed to serve as a framework for the work of the commission in this area.

The process which commenced in 2011 with the formulation of a gender mainstreaming strategy as a mean of  operationalizing the AU Commmission Gender Policy 2009 was a consultative process which,  in a first phase, brought together the Commission, the Regional Economic Communities and mechanisms (RECs/RMs) as well as regional civil society organisations (CSOs) and networks to map out a plan of action for the implementation of Programme.

During the three-day workshop held in Accra, Ghana, from 7-9 May 2014, the participants discussed and agreed critical priorities to accelerate the implementation of legal and policy frameworks on gender, women, peace and security and mapped out key results to be attained on gender equality and women empowerment in the areas of prevention, participation, protection, capacity building, knowledge management and networking.

The participants acknowledged the unique opportunity the programme provides  in :

(i)                galvanizing global and continental commitments on preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence;

(ii)              responding  to existing challenges of women’s exclusion;

(iii)            engendering a new peace and security discourse

(iv)            emphasizing knowledge management as a driver for policy formulation and decision-making that addresses critical gender issues in the context of emerging threats on the continent;

(v)              leading in analysis that engages with how women and men are differently implicated in conflicts and how masculinities shape the role of boys and men in peace and security.

Other efforts undertaken by the African Union Peace and Security Department  in addressing the situation of women and children in conflict and post-conflict settings include:

The AU Peace and Security Council Open Sessions on addressing the Vulnerability of Women and Children in Conflict Situations in Africa

On 30 March 2010, the PSC convened its first open session on addressing the vulnerability of women and children in conflict situations in Africa, during which a decision was taken for the Council to hold an open session focusing on this issue every year. The first open session was also held to commemorate the first year of the African Women’s Decade. Since then, the Council has convened an annual open session that offers an opportunity for the PSC and AU Member States in general, as well as regional actors, partners and civil society to strengthen their commitments for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children in conflict situations in Africa, as provided for in AU’s international and regional policy and legal frameworks. It also gives the PSC the opportunity to listen to the voices of affected populations, and to have an interaction with non-state actors, civil society organizations, partners, organizations and regional networks advocating for the rights of women and children in Africa. 


Women in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)

From 17-19 September 2013, the Peace and Security Department, convened in Addis Ababa, an Experts Meeting on Women, Peace and Security: From Resolution to Action, reviewing progress in the implementation of National Action Plans in regards to DDR. The meeting provided a platform for the review of Member States development and adoption of NAPs on UNSCR 1325 with a specific focus on DDR and also received presentations on the AU Gender Architecture and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Recommendations from this meeting are being implemented with the support of partners.

Additionally, the PSD is developing technical guideline documents on DDR that specifically address the different security needs of women, men, girls and boys and aims to find appropriate ways in which to target all women who join irregular and regular armies and provide them with adequate assistance. A meeting to review the first draft of these guidance documents (Women and DDR, Children and DDR, Detention in DDR, Reintegration and National Frameworks for DDR initiatives) was convened from 3-4 December 2013 in Addis Ababa. A second review took place in May 2014; in-order to review with field expert’s on whether these documents met the practical needs of the field.

On 4 April 2014, PSD commemorated International Mine Awareness and Assistance Day. This year’s theme was “Women in Mine Action” and aimed at highlighting the important contribution made by women in mine action as they work in their communities towards making them a safer environments for all. The UN has developed new Gender Guidelines for Mine Action Programs to help mine-action policymakers and field personnel incorporate gender perspectives into all operations of mine action. PSD will work with the UN to explore how the AU can use these guidelines whilst ensuring that they capture and reflect African perspectives, lessons learned and best practices from around the Continent in gender mainstreaming thus ensuring that mine action programs are more efficient and effective.


Preventing and responding to sexual violence.

 AU-UN Framework Agreement. The Peace and Security Department signed in February 2014, on behalf the AU Commission, a joint collaboration framework with the United Nations on preventing and  responding to conflict-related sexual violence.   The AU PSD is working closely with the office of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in conflict on translating this framework into a plan of action to be implemented at the continental level as part of the Prevention and Protection Pillar under the Gender, Peace and Security Programme.

 The efforts undertaken at HQ level have been echoed a field level through the AU Liaison Offices and AU Field mission, in that regard, measures have been taken by AU Missions on the ground, to tackle the issues of sexual violence and sexual exploitation abuse through the formulation of a Zero tolerance policies which articulate the Commission’s position on sexual violence, exploitation and abuse by AU troops.

 Appointment of Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security of the Chairperson of AUC

The appointment by the AUC Chairperson of Ms. Bineta Diop as  Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security on 30 January 2013 is an additional sign of the AU commitment to firmly address issues affecting women and children in conflict.  .  Since her appointment the Special Envoy has been active in promoting empowerment of women in Africa, not least by visiting countries in conflict such as the Central African Republic. 


VIDEO RELEASE:  African Union launches five-year Gender Peace and Security Programme 2015-2020

African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui making his opening statement during the Gender Peace and Security Programme (GPSP) Launching and Implementation Workshop on 2 June 2014 at the African Union Commission Headquarters: Click here>>

African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop making her opening statement: Click here>>


Posted by Tchioffo Kodjo
Last updated by Lulit Kebede

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