News & Updates

The Third African Union (AU) Pre-summit on Gender

The third African Union (AU) pre-summit on gender begun this Friday 22/01/2010 at the headquarters of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The pre-summit will have two segments. The first will cover peace and security particularly building participants’ capacity on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889. The second segment of the pre-summit will address the theme of the summit: ‘Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development’.
We recall that resolution 1325 was the first ever to specifically address the impact of war on women, and women’s contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. 1820 confronts sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, 1888 mandates peacekeeping missions to protect women, girls from sexual violence in armed conflicts whereas 1889 urges renewed measures to improve women’s participation in peace processes such as rebuilding war-torn societies.
The opening session was chaired by Ms. Faiza Mohamed, representing SOAWR and the AUWC and featured statements from Mrs Monique Rakotomalala, Director of the Gender Unit of the ECA, the Commissioner of Peace and Security (read by Mrs. Litha Musyimi-Ogana), and H.E. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland.
Mrs. Mary Robinson stated that the UNSCR 1325 has achieved a mixed record, even though it was adopted ten years ago. Violence against women in conflict situations persists, including sexual violence and trafficking. She recently was in Goma in the DRC and said the nature of violence there is about the total subjugation of women, their wombs and their womanhood.
Mrs. Robinson also shared that a steering committee of all heads of UN agencies has been formed to prepare for the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in October. A civil society advisory group to the steering committee has also been formed and will be co-chaired by Her Excellency and Madame Bineta Diop of FAS (Femmes Africa Solidarité). The advisory group will be consulting a larger group of CSOs in order to:
1.    Assess implementation of the status of 1325
2.    Identify time-bound goals/targets and measurement and accountability mechanisms which are currently lacking in 1325
3.    Hold UN states accountable to take practical steps to implement 1325.
The CSO panel will also be advocating for a trust fund to be set up for implementation of 1325 through national action plans. “This is going to be a very critical year for women… we are positioned – now what are we going to do?”, asked HE Robinson.
Still on peace and security matters, the secretary of the AU peace and security council (PSC), Dr. Kambudzi Admore Mupoki, stated that the doors of the PSC are open to women, and the terms of engagement are in the Livingstone formula, a provision given to civil society organisations to provide technical support to the AU by undertaking early warning reporting and situation analysis which feeds information into the decision-making process of the PSC. He also invited women’s organisations to the inaugural meeting between the PSC and members of the civil society that will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2010, and where they would be able to talk directly to the council.  “Women in Africa, you have a genuine partner in the Peace and Security Council”, said Dr. Kambudzi.
He also revealed that the Panel of the Wise will be visiting conflict and post-conflict states in 2010 to asses the situation of women on the ground, and will develop a policy paper and submit to the relevant policy organs of the AU for decision-making.
The AU director of women, gender and development, Mrs. Litha Musyimi-Ogana, on her part, explained how African women played a big role in shaping the AU Constitutive Act including lobbying for an end to the non-interference clause of the OAU.  She further clarified the linkages between the AU and United Nations (UN) peace and security processes, mainly on UN Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 188 and 1889.