Given the many challenges facing the Sahel region, security is undoubtedly the most pressing. It is therefore necessary to involve the various sections of the population in order to play a role in conflict prevention and peace-building. Women and young people represent an important category in this region, and their involvement in the political arena, and especially in security issues, is no longer a simple option but a strategic priority. In a statement issued by its Presidency on Wednesday 3 February 2021, the UN Security Council stressed the importance of the role played by women in West Africa and the Sahel in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding and post-conflict situations. In this declaration, the members of the Council stress that women "must participate on an equal footing in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security and be fully and meaningfully involved". Women are at the heart of efforts to achieve sustainable peace through inclusion, justice and security.
At global and regional levels, various frameworks and mechanisms are being put in place to support and strengthen the participation and role of women in peace processes (UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This agenda urged all actors to increase women's participation and integrate gender perspectives into UN peace and security efforts, and called for the empowerment and inclusion of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding. In Africa, to promote the protection of women's rights, ensure gender mainstreaming and the equal participation of women in peace processes, several policies, frameworks and mechanisms exist within the African Union: From its framework policy on security sector reform to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), via the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004), the Solemn Declaration on a Common African Defence and Security Policy (2004), the Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (2006), the AU Gender Policy (2009).
The conference, animated by Ms Coumba BAH, President of the Media Network on Security Sector Reform in Mali (Mali) and Ms Alice Combary SOULAMA, Coordinator of WANEP Burkina (Burkina Faso), provided an opportunity to analyse the contours of the debate on better involvement and integration of women at all levels in peace processes for a more stable and secure Sahel region.
The discussions, moderated by Ms Diyé BA, Coordinator of the G-5 Sahel Regional Women's Platform (Mauritania), focused on the following points :
The discussions showed that unfortunately, despite a plethora of existing legal and standard-setting instruments, the appropriation and practical implementation of these policies at Member State level poses problems and varies from one State to another in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Despite timid efforts to address gender issues in the security sector in these countries, women often remain marginalised and largely excluded from decision-making bodies in peace processes. The few attempts at reform are struggling to consolidate over time, and good practice is not abundant. Hence the urgent need to strengthen the Women, Peace and Security Agenda through :
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