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WANEP calls for empowerment of women

Accra, Oct 22 (GNA) – The West Africa Network for Peacebuidling (WANEP) has called for the legal empowerment of women politically and economically, to enable them play equal part in peace and security.

Mr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director, WANEP said women must be supported and represented at all levels of decision-making: at the pre-conflict stage, during hostilities and at the point of peace-keeping, peace-building, reconciliation and reconstruction.

He said the existing institutional frameworks and legislations must include women in peace negotiations, peace-building and post conflict reconstruction.

He observed that this wass pertinent in view of the fact that the various interventions in the West African sub-region had not harnessed the perspectives and skills of women towards finding lasting solutions to the multi-dimensional crises.

Mr Eze was speaking on Tuesday in Accra at the opening ceremony of the annual experience sharing to mark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 conference on the theme: « Fifteen Years of the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 in West Africa: Looking Back and Looking Forward. »

The UNSCR 1325 was passed on October 31, 2000, to give critical recognition of the crucial role women have to play in processes of conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building, as well as the specific impact of war on women’s and girls’ lives.

The conference was organized by the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP) in collaboration with the ECOWAS, to provide the platform for participants to highlight the successes and best practices, and the lessons learnt in implementing national adaptation plans for the UNSCR 1325 in West Africa.

The two-day conference which brought together 55 participants from member-states of ECOWAS also sought to examine the challenges and the way forward, having in view the emerging peace and security threats in the region.

The Excutive Director said experience throughout the world had shown that excluding women in all aspects of life, be it political, economic or social, made sustainable peace and development a mirage.

He said UNSCR 1325 addressed not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role of women should and do play in conflict transformation, prevention and sustainable peace.

« There is no doubt that UNSCR 1325 has brought women and their roles the needed political and media attention.

« It is obvious that there can be no security where women are exposed to violence and no peace where they are ignore, » he stated.

He mentioned the over 200 girls held hostage by insurgents in Nigeria, and the plight of young girls in Sierra Leone as some of the challenges women were facing in the sub-region.

Mr John A. Ackon, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said it was important that the operational implementation of UNSCR 1325 was carried out in the light of emerging threats, such as terrorist groups and drug traffic in the sub-region.

« To implement resolution 1325 it must be noted that as long as women are not considered as equal partners and do not have the same possibilities to participate in all political, social and economic activities, it will be difficult to satisfy the requirements contained in the resolution, » he said.

Dr Siutiki Ugbe of the UNWomen said, the task of building and promoting sustainable peace and security remained a critical priority for the West African sub-region.

« Whilst a number countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia are making progress in cementing the peace dividends, a new emerging security threats with a regional character, remain on the horizon, requiring continued vigilance and investments in mechanisms and processes for peacebuilding, » she said.

Dr Fatimata Dia Sow, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, in a speech read on her behalf lauded member-states for actively participating in the implementation of UNSCR 1325, by developing a national action plan.

She said the only member-states had in common was that more work had to be done to promote women’s rights.