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Women Organize for a Culture of Peace
and Non-Violence in Africa

Pan-African Women's Conference
on a Culture of Peace

Zanzibar, Tanzania

17 to 20 May 1999

WCP Logo

THE WOMEN'S AGENDA FOR
A CULTURE OF PEACE IN AFRICA

Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania,
20 May 1999.

Table of Content:

The Women's Agenda for a Culture of Peace in Africa

I. Background

II. Framework for confronting the impact of violent conflict

III. Strategic Objectives and Actions

IV. Resource mobilisation for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa

V. Institutional Arrangements

THE WOMEN'S AGENDA FOR
A CULTURE OF PEACE IN AFRICA


Women of Africa, gathered in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, pledge to transform our nations and our continent to one that is based on the values and attitudes of a culture of peace, through the women's movement for peace which we have formed. The Women's Agenda for a Culture of Peace in Africa is our new "gender contract" which will guide our actions for peace. It has been developed with the following background in mind and it sets a framework for confronting violent conflict. The Agenda represents our legacy to future generations of African women and men.


I. Background


1. The Pan African Women's Conference on a Culture of Peace, Zanzibar, 17-20 May 1999, is an irreversible climax of our resolve to demonstrate our commitment to non-violent means of conflict resolution. This process started with the Kampala Action Plan on Women and Peace (1993), the African Platform for Action, Dakar (1994), The Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing (1995), the Women Leadership Forum on Peace, Johannesburg (1996), the Pan-African Conference on Peace, Gender and Development, Kigali (1997) and the UN Interagency Workshop on Documented Best Practices of Women in Non-violent Means of Conflict Resolution and Peace Building, Addis Ababa, (1998).

2. While women and men share a common concern for the increase in violence and armed conflicts, our perspectives, experiences and capacities remain grossly ignored and under-utilised in conflict prevention outside the family context. Yet, we African women have consistently demonstrated our commitment and have used our energy, talents and skills to move our societies towards a culture of lasting peace and sustainable development. We deplore the culture of violent conflict, social disintegration and economic deprivation that continues to affect us disproportionately and have employed effective mediating techniques in our efforts to address the recurring violent conflicts.

3. The women of Africa are deeply concerned with the persistence and proliferation of violence and armed conflicts. In this context, the Zanzibar Conference provided a forum for African women leaders, politicians with experience in peace-building, gender and peace researchers, educators, national and community based peace activists, media professionals and information brokers committed to peace and non-violence, to voice concerns, compare experiences, exchange ideas, prioritise strategies and co-ordinate actions for conflict resolution and peace building.

II. Framework for confronting the impact of violent conflict

4. Poverty and social injustices such as exclusion and discrimination are a breeding ground for violence, conflict and war. In situations of violent conflict and war, unequal distribution of resources, lawlessness and disregard of international humanitarian law weigh heavily on women. Further, women are particularly affected in a number of war-torn countries which experience violation of human rights, systematic gender-based violence and erosion of commitments to promoting social and economic welfare of their populations.

5. In such contexts, realities tend to be distorted because of the difficulties in establishing facts and measuring risks. Nonetheless, we recognise that violent conflicts, with their accompanying destabilisation, displacement and infrastructural destruction have gender-specific impacts on the affected populations. Furthermore, forced exile and its accompanying "brain drain" impedes the socio-economic development of the African continent. The extent and exact nature of gender injustice, gender specific crimes against humanity and the loss of human resources need to be accurately appraised.

6. Accurate information on peace, conflict and gender issues is essential for well-informed planning, policy-making and action. Obtaining information is particularly problematic in emerging conflicts, ongoing and post-conflict situations. African women in rural communities are particularly cut off from information sources.

7. The mass media as presently structured does not always promote messages and values of social justice, gender equality and peace. In times of conflict, it is particularly important that the media encourage gender sensitive messages of peace, tolerance and non-violence.

8. Women have primarily been considered as the victims of conflict. Yet women's life experiences and know-how are an enabling factor for playing key roles in various forms of preventive action. There is a need to encourage and support African women to enter into decision-making roles in all areas of policy including conflict prevention, management and resolution.

9. Institutionalised gender discrimination, in addition to being a crime and a violation of our human rights, is a major source of conflict within the family and other structures. It permeates and spills over into public institutions and all aspects of human relations.

10. Security entails the absence of both fear and threats of all forms of violence at the individual, community, national and international level. It also means economic, social, cultural, spiritual and emotional well being as well as a halt to gender-based violence especially in times of violent conflict.

11. Complex and multiple factors have led to violent conflicts and have had cultural, economic, environmental and political implications for the African continent. As peace promoters, we are determined to strengthen social and human security and support and encourage demilitarisation and disarmament processes.

12. Our community-based organisations offer life-long learning opportunities in human rights and a culture of peace issues from a women's perspective and provide a platform for the acquisition of skills in conflict resolution and prevention. There is a need to co-ordinate these community-based organisations, networks and institutional mechanisms working for peace at regional levels to address among other issues, the budgetary constraints that continue to limit effective implementation of our plans of action.

13. The Women's Agenda for a Culture of Peace in Africa addresses the root causes of violence including poverty, exclusion, economic, social and political injustices, unfinished democracies, the violation of human rights and the absence of the rule of law. It further outlines possibilities for overcoming obstacles and reducing the climate of violence while accelerating the pace of reconciliation and post conflict reconstruction, including resettlement of displaced and refugee women and their families. It further stresses the importance of relevant gender sensitive research, education and training that is necessary for societies to build a culture of peace.

III. Strategic Objectives and Actions

14. The overall goal of the Women's Agenda for a Culture of Peace in Africa is to achieve gender equality, the full empowerment of women and a culture of peace in Africa through the following strategic objectives:

  • i) Promoting the role of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building in Africa;
  • ii) Integrating women fully in democratic processes, notably in decision-making: Changing from democratisation without women to democratisation with women;
  • iii) Transforming mainstream security issues to include a gender perspective;
  • iv) Strengthening women's community based organisations and networks as a nurturing ground for building a culture of peace;
  • v) Pursuing strategies and initiatives that facilitate the changing of attitudes and gender stereotypes, particularly through the media;
  • vi) Engaging women's information services in Africa as active partners in peace-building processes to help ensure transparency, strengthen early warning systems and give visibility to women's peace and development initiatives;
  • vii) Providing education and training for a culture of peace;
  • viii) Stimulating research into and documentation of traditional and innovative methods of conflict resolution and women's best practices for peace building.


III.i Promoting the role of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building in Africa

Women of Africa are determined through this Agenda to work with all relevant parties in order to:

  • Identify the root causes of conflict at different levels in order to take appropriate actions;
  • Contribute to the transformation of institutions and practices that propagate conflict and violence;
  • Identify and prioritise the needs of women and strengthen the capacity of women leaders at the community level;
  • Strengthen the capacity of women's organisations in the areas of reconciliation, negotiation, mediation and increase their participation in decision-making processes;
  • Reinforce women's economic power through increased access to credit and loans, decision-making positions, participation in the management of public affairs and access to information;
  • Undertake capacity building of men and women, girls and boys, young and old, in peace building and conflict prevention, management and resolution;
  • Strengthen women's role as mediators and establish peace missions led by women to war torn societies;
  • Strengthen the capacities of women refugees and displaced persons to participate in peace negotiations and conflict resolution.


III.ii Integrating women fully in democratic processes, notably in decision-making: Changing from democratisation without women to democratisation with women

Women of Africa are committed to the development of participatory and egalitarian democracies and call upon governments and all relevant parties to:

  • Establish definitions of democratic principles and processes that reflect and encourage practices and values of participation, social justice and gender equality;
  • Sensitise all governmental bodies, community institutions and leaders, women and men, to gender concerns and to recognise, support and utilise women's expertise and experiences in consolidating democracy;
  • Adopt an affirmative action policy that guarantees at least 30% representation of women in decision-making mechanisms at all levels;
  • Enforce the implementation of conventions and national, regional and international instruments relating to the equality of women and men, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action;Establish an observatory for peace and democratic governance;
  • Ensure equal representation of women in national mechanisms of co-operation with bilateral and multilateral institutions;
  • Support women in policy-making positions whose agenda include gender considerations and who keep in touch with their constituencies;
  • Provide mentorship and opportunities for younger women to prepare for leadership and policy-making roles.

Women's organisations and networks will:

  • Monitor governments' plans and actions to ascertain whether they promote or hamper culture of peace values, principles and practices;
  • Protest against all forms of discrimination and violence against women.

III.iii Transforming mainstream security issues to include a gender perspective

Women's organisations and networks will:

  • Analyse the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mechanisms for defence and security from a gender perspective to assess the level of support given to us in their policy and institutional frameworks and their impact on our peace networks;
  • Appeal to governments to implement the ECOWAS moratorium on small arms control and develop and apply similar initiatives in other sub-regions and equally call upon the international community to support the Program of Co-ordination and Assistance for Security and Development (PCASED) of the moratorium.
  • Sensitise and encourage women military personnel and spouses of officers to play an active role in conflict prevention and link them to organised events related to peace-building;
  • Advocate for disarmament and appeal to governments to reduce military expenditure and reallocate these resources into education in general and particularly education for a culture of peace.

Women of Africa strongly appeal to governments to:

  • Support the implementation of regional instruments such as the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development and its Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children.
  • Strengthen co-operation among national and international information services in order to facilitate the speedy collection and dissemination of information on security issues within and across boundaries;
  • Create and reinforce counselling and healing centres to provide legal and social services and rehabilitate women victims of violence;
  • Fully involve us in activities that promote the goals of our redesigned agenda for security;
  • Develop and implement programs of action to ensure the reduction and control of arms production, trafficking and sales and encourage the media to inform and sensitise the population about these issues;
  • Vigorously implement national, regional and international laws and statutes that combat all forms of violence against women and children notably the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and strengthen legal systems to ensure that perpetrators be brought to justice. Further, adopt the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women;
  • Release, demobilise and re-socialise child soldiers in order to ensure their protection and active integration into constructive development processes;
  • Establish the first day of the year as a weapon free day beginning with the year 2000.


III.iv Strengthening women's community based organisations and networks as a nurturing ground for building a culture of peace

Women of Africa will:

  • Identify unifying issues among ourselves and women's groups that serve to strengthen our networks;
  • Promote knowledge of traditional and innovative mechanisms of peace-building, conflict resolution and consensus-building skills at all levels;
  • Organise and mobilise non-violent mass actions to stop the involvement of our sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, uncles and brothers in conflict and war;
  • Strengthen co-ordination of our activities for example to serve as an early warning mechanism for conflict prevention;
  • Organise broad-based peace caucuses that include women from local organisations;
  • Work closely with religious and spiritual organisations and other interested parties to build mutual understanding and promote the values of a culture of peace at the individual, family, community, national and regional levels;
  • Ensure that our African peace movements are independent and democratic and encourage broad subscription;
  • Lobby governments to facilitate the establishment of women's networks, NGOs, associations of women professionals and to work closely with us at national, sub-regional and continental levels in order to give visibility to our contribution to a culture of peace.


III.v Pursuing strategies and initiatives that facilitate the changing of attitudes and gender stereotypes, particularly through the media

Women of Africa will network with the media to:

  • Undertake concerted action to reduce the level of violence presented in the media and negative gender stereotypes still projected;
  • Widen our access to and participation in all forms of media, and reach out to others at the local level through community radio with gender sensitive development programmes.

Women of Africa will:

  • Create and reinforce networks of communication and exchange in order to develop a new form of solidarity and partnership between women and men aimed at moving towards a non-violent society and the systematic peaceful resolution of conflicts;
  • Initiate the establishment of a Pan-African women's radio to present objective information, to build awareness, to mobilise widespread support in favour of peace and to launch special programmes on women and a culture of peace.

Women of Africa call upon governments and all other relevant parties to:

  • Establish awareness-building, information and communication programmes on a culture of peace that include the production of newsletters, media and civic education programmes using the radio and television;
  • Help ensure that reporting is balanced and fair, that any incitation to hate or intolerance through the media is condemned as a crime and encourage the media to respect their universally accepted codes of conduct and ethics;
  • Develop mass media programmes that would help transform public, private, modern and traditional media into instruments for the promotion of a culture of peace;
  • Train men and women media professionals on issues of gender and on values of a culture of peace, with particular emphasis on the socialisation of boys and young men;
  • Encourage the use of traditional means of communication, such as songs, theatre and literature to transmit messages of peace and non-violence;
  • Fully engage all forms of mass media for the development and advancement of women;
  • Encourage the participation of artists and media professionals in the promotion of a culture of peace;
  • Enable the mass media to fulfil their aims of disseminating information, providing education and entertainment, by significantly increasing their budgets for production of local programmes which meet the peoples' needs for development and peace;
  • Create an enabling environment and conditions for a pluralistic media and for the setting up of community libraries, radios, newspapers and so on;
  • Support public and private media in the production of didactic radio and television programmes that provide people on the continent with information on means of peaceful resolution of conflicts.

III.vi Engaging women's information services in Africa as active partners in peace-building processes to help ensure transparency, strengthen early warning systems and give visibility to women's peace and development initiatives

Women of Africa call for the co-operation and support of all parties in order to:

  • Promote women's empowerment through information and education at the local level and stress the importance of women's traditional peace building knowledge and skills;
  • Recognise the critical importance of the dissemination of factual information and the need to facilitate the free flow of information notably in and out of conflict areas;
  • Utilise existing and emerging information communication technologies (ICT) for the collection, organisation and dissemination of information and provide training in this area;
  • Assist women's organisations, associations and media professionals to obtain modern and efficient means of communication;
  • Establish a database of research and information on culture of peace issues and encourage women to actively use information to facilitate their initiatives;
  • Document and disseminate women's success stories in peace-building, development and responsible leadership including through the awarding of prizes to outstanding women and women's groups;
  • Prepare a women's "Who's Who ?" and a history of African women leaders to serve as role models for future generations;
  • Encourage gender sensitive responsible management and use of information to accurately inform civil society and reduce propaganda;
  • Invite the women's information services in Africa to make accessible to women at all levels an overview of the extent and impact of gender based violence in order to develop relevant preventive strategies.

III.vii Education and training for a culture of peace

Women of Africa will co-operate with governments, national, regional and international organisations and institutions in order to:

  • Develop a consensus, on which moral and cultural values should be transmitted to younger generations;
  • Develop didactic material in peace-building techniques using experiences from various countries;
  • Develop training modules that contain adequate, relevant and accurate information that promote traditional values and an understanding of the nature, root causes and various dimensions of tensions within the communities;
  • Adopt a participatory methodology that enhances mutual respect and involves the community as a partner in the design, development, testing and appraisal of training modules and training programmes;
  • Provide relevant training programmes to enhance the capacity of trainers and local community leaders in mediation and a culture of peace;
  • Socialise boys and girls to the values of a culture of peace that include respect for human life, gender equality and social justice;
  • Ensure that conflict resolution programmes address health issues including AIDS/HIV, nutrition, reproductive health, mental health as well as psychological, spiritual and other forms of counselling and healing;
  • Include in civic education programmes the values and principles of democracy and responsible citizenship - such as the right to vote, the right to stand for elections and the responsibility of elected leaders;
  • Develop training programmes for women that help identify and overcome institutional, legal, cultural, social, economic, spiritual, psychological and political obstacles to their full participation in decision-making fora;
  • Train women to undertake appropriate research and to document best practices in democratisation and peace building processes;
  • Promote education and training for women and girls, particularly to strengthen our capacity for decision-making, governance and peace negotiation;
  • Provide adult literacy for non-literate women and information to literate women, on issues of gender, human rights, peace and development, including civic education.

Women of Africa will:

  • Work towards the inclusion of peace education in school curricula and in all learning institutions including through parent-teacher associations;
  • Demand the removal of sexist stereotypes from school textbooks, curricula and mass media in collaboration with artists, researchers, journalists and other professional groups;
  • Monitor government's national budgets and advocate for resources to be allocated to education.


III.viii Research into and documentation of traditional and innovative methods of conflict resolution and women's best practices for peace building

Women of Africa will work with all relevant parties to promote and undertake:

  • Institutional review of women's peace networks in general and the African Women Committee on Peace and Development in particular, in order to identify and address capacity building needs and further develop a Women and a Culture of Peace Programme for Africa;
  • Research and information gathering as a tool for early-warning and monitoring of conflicts;
  • Research to identify and assess gap areas in our participation in democratisation processes and culture of peace programmes in order to facilitate better planning;
  • Research in the area of security as redefined from a gender perspective;
  • Comparative studies in attitudes and behaviours conducive to preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution and peace-building.


IV. Resource mobilisation for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa

15. The Women's Agenda for a Culture of Peace in Africa calls on women to consistently monitor governments' national budgets and advocate for more resources to be allocated to peace-building actions and the improvement of our economic situation.

16. Further, women will continue to advocate for reduction of military expenditure and re-allocation of saved resources to education and peace promotion.

17. Women of Africa strongly appeal to governments, financial institutions and the international community to:

  • Reinvest in programs that support women's efforts to build a culture of peace;

18. Women of Africa will lobby, advocate and network in order to:

  • Mobilise broadly our skills, expertise and experiences for building a culture of peace;
  • Secure adequate financial and human resources to ensure the implementation of this Agenda through regular programmes and budgets of the OAU, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), African Development Bank (ADB) and the UN system;
  • Strengthen African women's financial capacities to further develop and sustain peace in Africa.

V. Institutional arrangements

19. Women of Africa, hereby stress that it is important to:

  • Enhance the capacities of the African Women's Committee for Peace and Development, recently established as an autonomous committee by the OAU and ECA and of the OAU Women's Unit, for purposes of:
  • Networking;
  • Information sharing;
  • Establishment of appropriate media programmes;
  • Ensure the recruitment of qualified African Women to high level regional and international positions including in the OAU;
  • Set up Regional Sub-committees of the African women's movements for peace to meet regularly also on a regional level;
  • Strengthen the UNESCO Women and a Culture of Peace Programme through adequate financial and human resources in order to support women's peace activities in Africa;
  • Establish national committees with our broad participation in order to celebrate the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World and the International Year for the Culture of Peace in the Year 2000.
 
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