Women’s Empowerment is our best line of defence against militarism and violent extremism says the Executive Director of UNWOMEN, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
She was addressing a debate in the United Nations Security Council on the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation in Africa.
She urged the Council to ensure that the perspectives of women were more frequently included in their deliberations while calling for the inclusion of robust gender analysis in all atrocity prevention and mediation efforts.
The message is not new but it does appear to be resonating.
As the organ responsible for world peace and security, is increasingly turning to women, and with good cause.
“Last year’s global study on women, peace and security highlighted that countries with lower level of gender inequality are less likely to resort to the use of force. That the security of women is one of the most reliable indicators of the peacefulness of a state; and that women’s different spending patterns contribute directly to post-conflict social recovery,” says as Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The global study also reveals that women are the first to notice attacks on their rights and freedoms and the radicalization of individuals in their families and communities. And with the increased occurrence of terrorist attacks across Africa that is putting increased pressure on limited resources to combat them, there is growing consensus that the role of women will be critical moving forward.
“The work of women peacemakers takes many forms in Africa and elsewhere, but their commitment is consistent, dependable and universal. It is also directly linked to strengthening efforts at conflict prevention that is so needed in the face of today’s complex security environment,” says Mlambo-Ngcuka.
It’s that role of women in South Sudan that was offered to the Council as a case in point from the Executive Director of the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network, Paleki Ayang.
“Women’s efforts took place at all levels from the grassroots to the international. Inside South Sudan, women were crossing tribal lines to de-escalate tensions and prevent further conflict. In a protection of civilian site which was segregated between Dinka and Nuer tribes a Dinka woman joined with the Nuer to start a group where women from both tribes would meet and discuss how to stop violence while the men wanted to fight over their tribal differences, women bridged the divide and reduced the tensions within the community,” says Ayang.
As calls for greater investment in gender equality and empowerment as part of the 2030 Agenda is now seen as a security and peace imperative.