The United Nations Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has advocated the urgent inclusion of women in conflict prevention and resolution to sustain peace in the sub-region.
“Today, there is a positive momentum in West Africa in terms of the awareness of promoting women leadership and participation in peacemaking because without women’s inclusion, peace is not sustainable. We need to redouble efforts to support capacity-building and skills training for women on peace and security,” he charged.
Mr Ibn Chambas was speaking at the end of a five-day capacity training programme for women drawn from about 11 West African countries on conflict analysis, mediation and gender dimensions of conflict.
It was jointly organised by the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in partnership with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
Recognising progress made in consolidating democracy in many countries in the sub-region in the last decade, the UN Special Representative deplored the upsurge of insecurity following terrorist attacks, tensions and violence associated with socio-political agenda in recent times.
“The role of women is crucial in this regard, as Secretary-General Gutterres has emphasised, we will never effectively address complex global challenges like climate change, inequality and conflict without the expertise of half of our population. My key message therefore is that we need to reinforce and promote the participation of women in conflict resolution processes and in sustaining peace,” he maintained.
The Head of Political Affairs and International Cooperation of the ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Onyinye Onwuka, reiterated the sub-regional bloc’s commitment to bridge the gender gap in its political and security interventions.
She mentioned the establishment of the Women Peace and Security Unit and Women Peace and Security Advisory Committee under her department as new steps taken to strengthen women’s capacity in advancing peace and security in the sub region “being conscious of the fact that women are a veritable part of any sustainable conflict prevention, management and resolution initiative.”
Mrs Onwuka assured of the commitment of ECOWAS to build on partnerships and collaborations to accentuate women’s capacities for conflict analysis and prevention to promote peace in the sub-region in the long run.
For his part, Deputy Commandant of the KAIPTC, Brigadier General Irvine Nii-Ayitey Aryeetey, said that the Centre was poised to contribute its quota to prevent conflicts and sustain peace.
To that end, he pledged the Centre’s determination to advance research and particularly to ensure that women were abreast with issues bordering on peace and security in the face of rising crisis in West Africa and the Sahel.
Participants who at the end of the ceremony were awarded with certificates expressed their resolve to champion peace in their respective countries to address the rising threat of insecurity among African countries.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH