Women in Mali demand equal role in Peace AccordsBefore and after reaching a peace agreement in June, women leaders have been pressuring decision-makers for 50-50 representation in all bodies involved in its implementation.
After more than three and a half years of armed conflict in Mali, a peace agreement was finally signed on 20 June 2015, marking the end of more than 10 months of mediation led by Algeria and the international community. It renewed hope for the country's population of over 15 million.
“Women in Mali want peace, nothing but peace. Along with girls, they have paid the highest price with the various types of violence they have suffered, which have left wounds that will take a long time to heal,” said Ms. Sangaré Oumou Ba, the Minister for the Promotion of Women, Children and Families.
To support women through the post-crisis period, UN Women set up a wide-ranging peace and security programme. With a budget of nearly USD 20 million for the period 2012-2017, it is run in close cooperation with the Malian Government through several agencies including the Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children and Families—the coordinating body for National Gender Policy in Mali—and three other ministries (Defense, Security and Justice). The programme focuses on protecting women and girls in conflict zones; preventing gender-based violence; and building the agency of women as key actors in peace and recovery efforts.
The main NGO partners involved in the programme include Coordination des Associations Féminines du Mali (Coordination of Malian Women’s Associations), Woye Siffa (peace huts), as well as the Plateforme des Femmes Leaders du Mali (Platform for Women Leaders of Mali—a national body of female political leaders, ministers, parliamentarians, prominent activists and human rights defenders. UN Women supports its initiatives to ensure women’s full participation in the follow-up and monitoring mechanisms for implementing the peace agreement. UN Women closely collaborated with senior leadership and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which is coordinating the international community’s support to implementation of the peace agreement.
Since the mediation process began in Algiers in July 2014, the Platform for Women Leaders has sought to ensure women’s increased representation in decision-making bodies and other peace processes, through activities such as: TV and radio advertisements, public debates, peace caravans, training for 145 women in conflict mediation techniques, awareness-raising on the peace agreement for 900 women, lobbying with political and traditional decision-makers, and visiting women survivors of violence in camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.
When such efforts began in July 2014, there were only three women among the 50 delegates at the Algiers peace talks, but by September 2014, only two months later, more than eight women from civil society groups had joined the three Government delegates in the negotiations.
“It’s about time that women from all backgrounds can express themselves ... peace is for us women,” said Ms. Doumbia Mama Koité, President of the Platform for Women Leaders of Mali, marking the group's determination to rebuild their nation.
With the technical and financial support of UN Women, in May 2015, the Platform for Women Leaders of Mali organized information sessions for hundreds of women from all regions to raise awareness on the preliminary agreement resulting from the Algiers talks, with women establishing their own priorities for the finalization and future implementation of the agreement. Thousands of women from all regions also took part in a popular march for peace.
Post-adoption of the agreement, in June 2015, the Platform for Women Leaders brought together more than 200 women for consultations, drafting and presenting a list of priorities for national institutions and a statement to the President. It was a strongly worded appeal for equality in all bodies implementing the agreement, asking that women make up 50 per cent of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the National Commission on Demobilization, Disarmament and Reinsertion, and all other technical and advisory committees. They equally asked for 10 per cent of profits from the exploitation of natural resources, especially mining resources, to be allocated to initiatives for women's economic independence.
After receiving the statement, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta committed to ensure that Parliament would rapidly adopt a draft law (for a 30 per cent quota) that was passed on 30 July 2014, establishing measures to promote gender equality in the appointment and election of officials. He further stated his personal commitment to ensure greater involvement by women in the mechanisms of the peace agreement and promised to implement Mali’s second National Action Plan 2015-2017 for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. The plan, which constitutes the key women, peace and security agenda in Mali, was also adopted in June 2015, and was based on the priorities presented by the Platform for Women Leaders of Mali.
This project is supported through core funding to UN Women and project funding from the Governments of Japan, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
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