It’s Kenya’s chance to guide the global peace agenda

A women’s rights march in Nairobi last month.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Following the 2007-2008 post-election violence, women collectively advocated peace and access to justice.
  • Women also played a leading role in initiating transitional justice and in the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010.

Women in Kenya have played a vital role in preventing conflict and building peace through the country’s many upheavals. They have been active in advocating, and taking forward, institutional and legal reforms.

Their involvement in the northeastern region’s inter-clan conflicts of the 1990s bore peace committees that are a key component of national conflict resolution mechanisms.

More recently, following the 2007-2008 post-election violence, women collectively advocated peace and access to justice, developing a joint memorandum that make most gender provisions in the African Union (AU) mediation team’s agreement.

Women also played a leading role in initiating transitional justice and in the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, an important turning point in the journey to transformational democracy. They have been in the forefront in demanding political participation through the two-thirds gender rule.

The UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) was adopted 20 years ago. UNSCR 1325 recognised the importance of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in conflict resolution.

This year, the government launched the second National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 (KNAP II) to advance peace and security and a call to action for government based on four pillars: Participation; prevention; protection; and relief and recovery.

Broker peace

But there is a need for more systematic, consistent and comprehensive implementation of UNSCR 1325.

While women often broker peace in their communities, they are sidelined, their unique experiences and perspectives overlooked and are disproportionately affected by insecurity and disasters.

Women remain absent from key decision-making. Nine out of 10 people are biased against women. Including women and integrating a gender perspective in peace and political processes can mitigate bias, prevent further undermining of women’s rights and ensure inclusive and sustainable peacebuilding.

In 2018, women constituted 13 per cent of negotiators, three per cent of mediators and just four per cent were signatories in major peace processes. Meaningful women’s participation is at the heart of WPS; it is not just about equality but better results.

Covid-19 is a wake-up call for more equal and inclusive societies. We are at a crossroads: Either we lose hard-fought gains on women’s rights and sustainable, inclusive peace or emerge more equal, resilient and towards lasting and inclusive peace.

Kenya’s UNSC seat is its opportunity to shape the global peace and security agenda at home and abroad — including Agenda 2030, the development, sustainable and inclusive, gender-equal peace-building and policy-making blueprint.

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