Women’s Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution WorkshopMaurine Shonge- UN Women
From the 5th to the 7th of September 2018, Africa University in partnership with UN Women hosted a high level workshop on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution that was attended by 28 participants from independent commissions around Zimbabwe operating within the spheres of government, civic society and the nongovernmental sector whose mandate is to reposition the role of women in conflict and mediation from the back to the fore front.
AU in partnership with UN Women has been dedicated to training and equipping women from all walks of life in the practical techniques and skills necessary to be agents of peace and sustainable transformation. The partnership between the two organizations spans over a decade with the strategic partnership fomenting positive change and ensuring that women, women’s rights and the importance of their inclusion and representation at national level in politics and decision- making positions remains on the African agenda for sustainable development.
AU Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa officially opened the workshop and said, “Women within Zimbabwe and Africa at large have been both actors and victims in conflict.
” He went on to explain, “During our nations’ war of liberation, women stood side by side with men in the fight for freedom, justice and equality for all, but were largely absent from the negotiating table that saw Zimbabwe gain her independence.”
Adding to the poignant reflection on Zimbabwe’s historical context of women in conflict mediation and the peace process, Profossor Furusa said,
“Throughout our history on the continent, our efforts at peace have been largely fragmented with women more often than not missing or unrepresented altogether. Africa University is making a deliberate effort to bring African societies closer to gender parity and position women in leadership positions not only in higher education but in all sectors of the economy and society. In response to the need to emancipate our people to actively pursue the peace agenda on our continent, Africa University will be launching a Master of Science in Mediation, Negotiation and Nation Building soon.”
Mrs. Maurine Shonge, a UN Women representative who was a presenter at the workshop spoke of the work of UN Women in Zimbabwe and globally as well as the need for more to be done to shed light on gender disparity saying,
“UN Women is a relatively young arm of the United Nations and we still find instances where people are not aware of who we are, what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. UN Women exists to increase the participation of women in leadership, end violence against women, advocate for the involvement of women in the peace making and mediation process and to enhance the role of women in nation building.”
Highlighting the origins of the movement for increased gender parity through the adoption of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, Ms. Shonge went on to say,
“We are not doing enough and in many areas can do better! We need to keep talking, keep gathering and keep pushing for the increased participation of women in leadership.”
The 3-day workshop promises to deliver to those in attendance practical and contextually relevant solutions to conflict and most importantly adds to the growing list of women who have undergone similar training by Africa University and its dedicated partners who are then empowered to go out into their communities and educate other women ensuring a lasting, measurable and sustained impact.
Resolution 1325 adopted on 31 October 2000 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. The resolution provides a number of important operational mandates, with implications for Member States and the entities of the United Nations system (www.un.org).