News / Africa

UN: Women Rarely Included in W. African Peace-Building

Rights groups say the absence of women leaders in process of peace resolutions means the well-being of children, women remains unmet, (File photo).
Rights groups say the absence of women leaders in process of peace resolutions means the well-being of children, women remains unmet, (File photo).
Jennifer Lazuta
The U.N. Working Group for Women, Peace and Security in West Africa says women are drastically under-represented in peace-building activities in the region.  The U.N. working group met with representatives of 50 international aid and human rights groups to figure out how to make women’s voices a priority when it comes to making and keeping the peace in the region.

U.N. Women says women disproportionately “bear the brunt” of war and conflict in West Africa but are often excluded from peacemaking processes.

The agency says women account for less than eight percent of participants in peace talks, and that less than three percent of the people actually signing peace agreements are women.

Josephine Odera is the regional director for U.N. Women in West Africa. "Women are important in the peace processes of Africa because they hold the communities together," she explained. "And often, when there is a conflict, they’re the ones left behind, or having to run away with the children.  But as more peace processes have been conducted on the continent, we have realized that women’s voices are absent from such processes."

Odera said this absence means that issues like sexual violence and the well-being of children are not getting enough attention when it comes to conflict prevention and post-conflict resolution.

The United Nations created the Working Group for Women, Peace and Security in West Africa in 2009.

The group says they are trying to get member countries to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820, which call for increased female participation in decision-making at all levels and an end to conflict-related sexual violence and impunity for such crimes.
 
The deputy regional representative for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in West Africa, Benjamin Hounton, said these resolutions don’t just apply to conflict. They also apply to domestic family codes, many of which do not currently meet the U.N. standards for gender equality.

"You have many discriminatory provisions in our domestic law[s].  We say that the family code is applying for everybody, but in reality, the family code is not protecting the rights of all women… When you say the man is the chief of the family, that has many consequences for the women in the region. It has many consequences for the enjoyment of their rights," Hounton stated.

The U.N. working group says 11 of the 16 member countries in West Africa have developed national action plans to implement the U.N. Security Council resolutions, but more concrete actions need to be taken to make sure women’s voices are heard, especially when it comes to preventing and dealing with conflict.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid