A seminar reflecting on the first phase of the Gender-Based Violence and Mediation in West Africa -project took place in Dakar, Senegal, on the 12th of February. In Dakar, the seminar audience was presented with the first version of a toolkit developed by the project team. The toolkit aims at providing the necessary knowledge and expertise for mediators to take matters related to gender-based violence into account during peace mediation. The seminar provided a platform for lively discussion. One of the important conclusions was that rather than only striving for an increased number of women as mediators, the goal should be for all mediators – whether men or women – to adequately address the massive toll that gender-based violence takes on a society emerging from conflict.
At the event, CMI and WANEP’s representatives were joined in a panel by the the project’s senior adviser and member of the Advisory Board Elisabeth Rehn as well as other members of the high level Advisory Board: President of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) Bineta Diop, Peace Mediator and Uganda’s State Minister for Water Resources Betty Bigombe, and CMI Senior Adviser Colonel Mbaye Faye. In addition, experts from both CMI and WANEP provided context and background on the project.
Particular attention was paid to the Guidance Note on Gender-Based Violence and Mediation. The Note drew inputs from representatives from both ECOWAS and the African Union. All four parts of the toolkit - the Guidance Note, the separate field study reports from Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia as well as the Policy Brief - contribute towards a practical and comprehensive pool of resources for peace mediators. The toolkit will be revised to take into account the input and insights both from the Advisory Board and the audience.
The project, a shared undertaking by CMI and the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), is built on the realization that insufficient expertise on issues related to gender-based violence limits the success of peace processes. Through collection and comparative analysis of experiences from West African conflicts and peace mediation processes, the project develops recommendations on how to address these questions effectively. While the focus is on West Africa, the toolkit is aimed at all actors engaged in peace mediation.
Photos: Saila Huusko