Gender forum roots for women involvement in peace, democracy

African countries should empower women so that they can play an active role in peace building and democratisation, participants at the just concluded Gender Pre-Forum in Kigali said.
Some of the participants at the ‘silence the guns’ conference in Kigali on Monday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Some of the participants at the ‘silence the guns’ conference in Kigali on Monday. (Timothy Kisambira)

African countries should empower women so that they can play an active role in peace building and democratisation, participants at the just concluded Gender Pre-Forum in Kigali said.

Speaking at the last session of the forum, Amb. Fatuma Ndangiza, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Rwanda Governance Board, said: “Investing in women to build peace and democratisation will definitely pay off if it is done right from the grassroots.”

“Rwanda has attained its current status partly because of gender friendly policies that were put in place, like the affirmative action,” she said, adding that having 64 per cent women representation in Parliament has helped put in place laws that are gender sensitive.

The two-day forum, that ended on Tuesday, attracted over 200 participants from various African countries.

During a session titled; “Democratisation and peace building in Africa: Lesson Learnt,” Col. Jill Rutaremara, the Director of Rwanda Peace Academy, who was one of the panelists, noted that one of the challenges to peace building in Africa is the tendency to address issues from top to bottom and not vice-versa.

“When we talk of silencing the guns, we actually talk about resolving issues peacefully. Strategies such as women empowerment, and promoting self-reliance, especially at the grassroots, are all aimed at promoting peace,” he explained.

Betty Ogwaro, the chairperson of the Sudanese Women Forum, said the women’s agenda for peace goes beyond involving women in addressing governance issues.

It is not women alone who benefit from peace but the whole society, she said.

In its recommendations, the forum called on the African Union member states to facilitate dialogue, engagement and inclusion of African citizens, particularly women and youth, in democracy and good governance.

The recommendations from the Pre-forum will be considered during a high level dialogue in Dakar, Senegal, later this month.

The two-day forum was organised by the AU Commission in partnership with UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, UN Women, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, and Rwanda Governance Board.