Themed "Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development" the European Development Days - Europe's leading forum in international development - took place on 5-6 June in Brussels. It was the perfect opportunity for the African Peace Facility to introduce a topic of growing relevance for the design and implementation of peace operations in Africa: gender mainstreaming in peace processes.
The debate organised by the APF was dedicated to 'The role of African women in the prevention, management and resolution of African conflicts' to discuss ideas on how to further promote women's inclusion in peace-building across Africa.
Isabel Arradon, Director of Research at the International Crisis Group, opened the session with a comprehensive overview of the opportunities and challenges of boosting the gender component in the context of fragile situations. She also warned against gender roles and stereotypes being reproduced in the armed forces.
Stella Maranga, Gender Officer at the African Union, addressed the necessity of implementing existing laws on women's participation and raising awareness about gender inequality in the peace and security sector. Highlighting the fact that only 3.5 % of Somalia’s police force are women, she also emphasised that women's role is crucial at grass-roots level and called for greater actions on this front.
This was echoed by Sara Formisano, CTSAMM Gender Advisor, who explored how women were a part of South Sudan’s 2013 peace agreement, which includes a clause banning gender-based violence. She underlined the importance of APF-supported trainings, workshops and reports on gender-based violations, calling the audience to look beyond formal statistics.
All panellists argued for further analysis, increased monitoring and better data on gender-based violence and on how women are key in resolving African conflicts.