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Discussion Papers (series)

Women and mediation in Africa under the APSA and the AGA


Desmidt, S., Apiko, P., and Fannar Sævarsson, K. 2017. Women and mediation in Africa under the APSA and the AGA. (Discussion Paper 217). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Women play crucial roles before, during and following conflicts, yet their participation and the acknowledgment of that role has been with mixed result and slow progress. This paper looks at the role of women in conflict resolution and conflict prevention and in particular their role in mediation processes and election observation in Africa. It gives an overview of the African Union’s commitments and policies to enhance and support the role of women in mediation, looking in particular at the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). This includes the recent establishment of FemWise-Africa, a platform to connect female mediators across the continent.

We have selected two case studies of mediation processes, Kenya (2007-2008) and South Sudan (2013-2015) to show how these commitments and policies have been implemented on the ground. Findings suggest that while much effort has been spent in developing elaborate policy frameworks to support women in their peacebuilding role, the implementation on the ground has been fragmented. Commitment to include women in mediation processes has been limited, both in terms of time and scope. Potential synergies between various AU programmes and policies have been missed and while the AU and regional actors have signaled repeatedly the important role of women in peacemaking the focus has often been limited to addressing sexual violence.

The AU’s commitment towards gender parity is far from being achieved, in particular the number of women in leadership positions during peace processes or election observation missions. Furthermore, the interpretation of gender remains limited to women, peace and security, potentially missing a more inclusive approach towards peacebuilding. As the AU strengthens its efforts towards supporting women in peacebuilding and mediation, notably through FemWise- Africa, this paper aims to contribute to ongoing work towards an inclusive and participatory approach to gender, peace and security.

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Photo: CSW61- UN Secretary-General meets with Women’s Rights Activists. Credits: UN Women/Ryan Brown

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Discussion Papers (series)African Governance Architecture (AGA)African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)GenderAfrica