The UN Office for the Great Lakes region takes part in the East & Southern Africa Regional Symposium on Women, Peace and Security in Nairobi
Nairobi, 23 March 2018 – UN Women of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) convened a symposium on Women, Peace and Security in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22-23 March 2018. The two-day symposium was a follow up to the launch of the Global Study Report on Progress on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 also held in Nairobi in November 2016.
Participants noted significant progress in the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. Several examples point in this direction as the general acceptance now that Security Council Resolution 1325 is about human security -- which is more than violent conflict -- and includes all issues that touch on human security such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, and violence against women and girls. Also, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is in the process of mobilizing member states to develop a Regional Action Plan on 1325 to address the worsening security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which adversely affects the rest of the Great Lakes region. And, the United Nations Office for the Great Lakes region convened last February the Advisory Board Meeting of the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region where participants acknowledged the importance of women’s engagement with heads of state and government to dialogue and agree on ways to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Advisory Board also lent its support for the development and implementation of a monitoring mechanism to measure “quantitative and qualitative progress and achievements” in women’s participation in political and peace processes. Present at that meeting, Said Djinnit, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region stated that “Our role is to ensure that our strategic work can also be translated into qualitative output in our deliberations”.
Participants at the symposium acknowledged the urgent need for women and girls to participate in formal peace processes alongside men. “I appeal to regional bodies and member states that facilitate current peace processes to uphold this right of participation and representation,” said Simone Oluoch-Olunya, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Ms. Oluoch-Olunya also noted that Natural and man-made disasters are constituting a new threat to the security of women and girls. “Though disasters do not discriminate on the basis of sex, their impacts vary based on existing vulnerability and underlying inequalities including gender inequality,” she said.
There was consensus at today’s symposium that there is need for greater political commitment from regional leaders to address armed conflicts and political stalemates that have resulted in humanitarian crises causing unprecedented numbers of refugees in the region. According to UNHCR estimates, out of 65.5 million people forcibly displaced in the world in 2017, 7.4 million were from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, including the Central African Republic, the DRC, Somalia, South Sudan and Burundi.