Understanding how crises affect women and men, girls and boys of different ages and disparities is critical to effective humanitarian preparedness and response. Women, girls, boys and men have distinct needs, priorities, responsibilities, limitations and protection needs. They are exposed to differential risks and vulnerabilities but also play unique and important roles in preparedness and in responding to emergencies, conflicts and building peace within their respective communities. Gender equality in humanitarian action is about better targeting and programming and therefore about effectiveness of humanitarian action reaching all segments of the affected population.
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Refugees tend to be more accommodating of ethnic differences, which makes them good agents for peacebuilding
BY TSION TADESSE ABEBE AND SELAM TADESSE
Today, 9 July, marks the seventh anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, more than four years of which have been marred by conflict. Disagreement between President Salva Kiir Mayardit (of the Dinka ethnic group) and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar (who is Nuer), led to the outbreak of the conflict in 2013.
FemWise-Africa aims to include more women in peace processes
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New governments in both countries could reverse their poor track by learning from local projects
Neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone are undergoing post-conflict transitions. And in both countries, national elections are ushering in new administrations. In March, elections will be held in Sierra Leone, and in January, George Weah took over as Liberia’s president from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Disaggregating disease prevalence by gender can go a long way in addressing the continent’s health problems.
Africa has the highest prevalence of communicable diseases in the world – both in terms of mortality (death) and morbidity (illness). This phenomenon has consequences for the health of both women and men, and increased gender mainstreaming in health programmes can help tailor solutions.
In Somalia, a veil of shame and silence hangs over the subject of sexual and gender-based violence.
Victims are reluctant to open up, even to the closest family members, let alone report their plight to law and justice officials. And why would they – when all too often it is men in uniform who act not as protectors, but as perpetrators?
‘We are facing a lot of problems,’ says Naima Ali Abdullah, Head of Women Empowerment in the Somalia Ministry of Women.
Women’s rights are fundamental to human security and sustainable peace. The African Union’s Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) guarantees the rights and equality of women on the continent and complements the global women, peace and security agenda. But case studies of Malawi, South Sudan, Somalia and Mozambique reveal that the implementation of the Maputo Protocol is slow and patchy.
The wives of soldiers of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC, Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) may not be very visible, but they are an integral part of the military. They live with soldiers, and often their children, in and around military camps and deployment sites – including in the most insecure zones.
In the run-up to the African Union (AU) summit from 7–15 June in Johannesburg, South Africa, the role of women in peace and security are the focus of several discussions among role players in this field. This is to coincide with the AU’s focus on ‘women’s empowerment and development towards the implementation of Agenda 2063’ – its theme for 2015. Figures on the ground, however, indicate that not enough is being done to ensure gender parity in the security sector in Africa.
For decades, women and girls in Africa have been victims of rape, sexual slavery and other brutal forms of sexual and gender-based violence. In a continent rife with various forms of conflict, such violence has frequently been used as a weapon of war.
The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Draft Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes, released on 7 February 2014, ushers in new hope for addressing such crimes.
Felicia Wairagu, Intern, Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, ISS Nairobi
This paper alludes to the tensions between achieving gender equality (as a requirement for a just peace) and the maintenance of indigenous culture and religious traditions. The primary focus, however, is the teasing out of transformation opportunities presented during times of conflict and an analysis of the role of women in traditionally male domains of peace processes, in this case, peacekeeping.