Role of women crucial in addressing conflict – Dr. Chambas
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), on Friday said the role of women is a crucial factor in addressing conflict situations within the sub-region.
Global challenges like climate change, could also be resolved more effectively, if women are involved in finding solutions to these challenges.
Dr. Chambas said this when he officially performed a ceremony to close a Training of Trainers workshop on the theme, “Building Women’s Capacities for Conflict Analysis and Prevention in West Africa and the Sahel,” in Accra.
Dr. Chambas observed that West Africa and the Sahel faced both challenges and opportunities.
“In terms of opportunities, there has been important progress towards democratic consolidation in many countries in the last decade. We have seen peaceful alternation of power take place in many countries, and military takeovers are almost a thing of the past,” he said.
Dr. Chambas continued, “Protecting human rights is enshrined in national and regional protocols and laws and civil society is now dynamic, dedicated and stronger.”
He however noted that at the same time, insecurity is growing in many places within the region, typified by terrorist attacks, armed groups springing up in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and the Lake Chad Basin.
Dr. Chambas said inter-community clashes and conflicts between herders and farmers were rampant with hundreds of casualties across the region, adding that tensions and violence associated with elections and constitutional reform were also worrying trends.
He said to address the challenges; there was the need to have a better understanding of the underlying causes and drivers of conflict.
“The role of women is crucial in this regard. My key message therefore is that we need to reinforce and promote the participation of women in conflict resolution processes and in sustaining peace,” Dr. Chambas said.
Dr. Chambas said the time has come to explore more avenues to link women’s peace efforts at the community level with mediation and facilitation efforts at both national and regional levels.
He noted that currently, there was a positive momentum in West Africa in terms of awareness of promoting women leadership and participation in peace making.
“We want to strengthen the links between regional, national and local peacemaking efforts. We aim to empower women and create more space for them to play an effective role in this regard,” Dr. Chambas said.
He said to make this happen, there was the need to redouble efforts to support capacity building and skills training for women.
Dr. Chambas commended organizers as well as participants of the workshop for their dedication and hard work.
The five day workshop, held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre saw over 30 participants representing 11 countries in the region including Ghana, training in conflict analysis, mediation and gender dimensions of conflict, mainly drawn from the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework and the UNOWAS Conflict Analysis Handbook.
The workshop was collaboration between UNOWAS, ECOWAS, the UN System Staff College, the West Africa Network for Peace building and the KAIPTC.