The Advisory Council of the Women for Peace Alliance first meeting

Madrid, May 14. On the afternoon of this date, a videoconference meeting was held by the  Advisory Council of the Women for Peace Alliance, an initiative promoted by the Women for Africa Foundation together with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

This union between the two organizations was formalized on the 4th of last November in New York, with the agreement being signed by Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the president of Mujeres por Africa.

The goal of the Women for Peace Alliance is to support the participation of women as advocates and negotiators with a religious and intercultural approach in conflicts, through the projects that will be implemented in Africa.

However, there will also be an opportunity for reflection and meeting. In this regard, the meeting held today is especially important as it constitutes the Advisory Council of the Alliance, composed of renowned African women leaders.

The members of the Council: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of Liberia; Aminata Touré, former Prime Minister and President of the Senegal Economic, Social and Environmental Committee; Catherine Samba Panza, former President of the Central African Republic; Oumou Sall Seck, Ambassador of Mali to Germany; Caddy Adzuba, journalist and activist of R.D. Congo; Hibaak Osman, Sudanese, president of the Al Karama organization; Wanjira Mathai, President of the Wangari Maathai Foundation; Obiageli Ezekwezili, former Nigerian Minister of Minerals and Education and promoter of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign; Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations; and the young Tunisian Aya Chebbi, Special Envoy of the African Union for Youth.

This first meeting of the Advisory Council of the Women’s Alliance for Peace comes at a special time, marked by the covid-19 pandemic. As María Teresa Fernández de la Vega pointed out during the meeting, the crisis has produced a chaos that some actors exploit to take advantage of during a conflict, as Bojo Haram has tried to do in Nigeria. However, it can also be an opportunity to call for a cease of hostilities and to launch new negotiation processes, in which the parties, in this dramatic scenario, may be more willing to focus on the real needs of the people.

In this regard, all the participants in the meeting agreed to join as the Council of the Alliance of Women for Peace with the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire.

But beyond this gesture, the Alliance wants to intervene in conflicts on the ground. During this year, it was planned to travel to Sudan and the Central African Republic. The coronavirus made this impossible, but during the meeting all the participants agreed that work can and should start now and several initiatives were launched. Among them was the initiative to convene a virtual meeting with African women ambassadors to the Security Council, which has so far been unable to declare this pandemic a threat to international peace and security, as was done during the Ebola epidemic. Other initiatives were to analyze the impact of COVID 19 in conflicts and to create arrangements for women on the ground who are working for peace to be heard in open sessions at the Council.

It was also proposed to explore the implementation of online negotiation, advocacy and dialogue processes between community leaders and influential women in conflict zones, focusing on the needs of the people.

What they all agreed on was that women can no longer wait to be represented and to be influential agents in peace processes. The Women, Peace and Security agenda of the United Nations, established with Resolution 1325 of the Security Council, which is now in its 20th year, has not yielded the expected results. The Alliance of Women for Peace will be a new and powerful tool to promote its fulfillment and turn into a reality the hope that women constitute as builders of peace.

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