Women, Peace and Security Contribution of Prof. Djénéba Traoré, Director General of WAI, at the Djibouti UNESCO Conference, 2-4 May 2017

Prof Djénéba TRAORE Djibouti
In an increasingly interconnected world, the implementation of a lasting peace in Africa, particularly in the Western, Eastern and Central regions and the Horn of Africa, must be part of an International concern involving all actors, male and female.

The struggle for peace means first of all the commitment to create a better world, a commitment that cannot be detached from a strong political awareness coupled with a humanist stand.

Women's actions for peace show first that a sustainable peace cannot be won without an inclusive and constructive dialogue between the various stakeholders, and second that the achievements will remain fragile in the absence of the establishment of fair justice for all.

Women who commit themselves to peace do it so with great sincerity, because conflicts and wars in which they are also part of the victims, take their dearest ones away from them: children, brothers, spouses and fathers.

Nevertheless, during periods of war or crisis, they do not remain inactive and have regularly been involved with enormous strength and determination in wars for national defense, struggles for independence, social movements for the obtention of civil rights and union claims. They have also been at the forefront of tough political struggles. However, even when women are involved in wars and armed conflicts, they have often distinguished themselves in their actions for the return of peace.

Among the numerous women who have worked tirelessly for peace and social progress, some of them have been rewarded at the highest level for their commitment to peace, such as the late Wangari Maatha from Kenya. Biologist and Professor of anatomy, she became in 2004 the first African woman to be receive the Nobel Peace Prize  for her «contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace».

In 2011, three women received at the same time the Nobel Peace Prize: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian President Leymah Gbowee, Liberian activist and creator of the «Women for Liberia Mass Action for Peace» movement, and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni activist and founder of the group «Women Journalists without Chains».

However, it is clear that women are the great ones forgotten, or worse, are intentionally kept away once peace is restored, at the time of rewards and when power is being shared.

Certainly, many obstacles still remain in their way so that their heroic acts in favor of relevant issues are recognized in the same way as those of men.

For this reason, it seems important to understand the history of the evolution of the condition of women throughout the world and through the centuries. Numerous writings have examined the topic, such as the world-famous book «The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State» published in 1884 by Friedrich Engels and based on the notes of Karl Marx, who died a year earlier. The book, based on the work of the American anthropologist and jurist Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881), offers the reader a scientific explanation of the transition from matriarchate to the patriarchal regime.

 In order to describe the reality of the situation for the majority of women living on the African continent, it should be stressed that women are facing inequalities  in the domain of opportunities and treatment from birth up. Furthermore, they are marginalized, discriminated and object of prejudice and verbal violence, as well as physical, social and cultural pressures that lead to their schooling, their submission to early marriages and the persistence of traditional practices harmful to their health, like for instance female genital cutting.

Among the recommendations that should have to be implemented in order to strengthen the contribution of women in the consolidation or the establishment of peace and security in the concerned regions in Africa, we can mention the following ones that are respectively addressed to Parliaments, University Institutions and Civil Societies of Africa:

- The effective implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

- The revision of the legislative texts, in particular the Family Law in countries where they assign gender inequalities.

- Mainstreaming gender across all ministerial departments.

- To take peace and security issues into account a transversal manner in all ministerial departments.

- Establishment of bi-and multilateral cooperation agreements on peace and security between the concerned countries.

- The creation in African Universities of training modules (Masters, Doctorates) on themes related to peace and security.

- The creation of «Gender Cells» (a CIEFFA initiative) and a Department of «Gender Studies» in African Universities, aiming at investigating and finding relevant solutions to the specific problems faced by female faculty members and students. These two bodies will also help to strengthen the participation of women in the process of sustainable socio-economic development.

- The creation of Women's Associations with the objective of fighting for the promotion of the ideals of peace and security.

- Advocacy, information and training of the populations on themes related to peace and security with the support of the medias.

- Citizen mobilization for peace and security.

- Reward at national, regional and continental levels by awarding individual and collective actions for peace and security.

It is generally recognized that the level of development of a country depends on the role played by women in the society. There is no sustainable development without peace and security. Women represent more than the half of the human population and they can make the difference.  It is thus urgent to take into account the actions that they are carrying out for peace and security specially in Africa and to involve them better in the fight against terrorism and in the process of peace and security building.


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