The Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace, and Security in West Africa and the Sahel (WGWYPS-WAS) has commenced its annual meeting in Accra on September 18, 2023.  

The aim of this meeting is to strengthen the understanding and coordination of action in the implementation and follow-up of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000), 2250 (2015), and subsequent ones on women, youth, peace, and security.

However, the meeting in Ghana aims to concretely propose strategies for greater involvement of women and youth in political dialogue in the ongoing crisis in the region.

The five days meeting being held at Best Western Hotel in Accra-Ghana is under the theme “Unconstitutional take-over of governments and transitions in the Sahel region”.

The Special Advisor to the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the Accra Initiative was also present and spoke on the current situation relating to violent extremism terrorism in the region.      

In his address for the Opening Ceremony of the Annual General Meeting, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana (UNRC), Mr. Charles Abani said the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) adopted on 31 October 2000 was the first to recognize the critical role and contribution of women to sustainable peace and stability thus acknowledging the fact that “women count for peace”.

“Indeed, the Resolution brought to the fore the need for women’s participation, highlighting a gender sensitive approach to peacemaking, peace building, humanitarian relief, and post conflict reconstruction.

“Over 20 years since the adoption of Resolution 1325, it has now become a key tool in the struggle to consider the gender dimension in the policy choices of decision-makers and the protection of women, particularly in conflict situations,” Mr. Abani stated.

He continued: “Similarly, the United Nations Resolution 2250 adopted in 2015 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) recognizes the crucial role of young people in peacebuilding. This role becomes even more relevant when notions of peace are taught earlier during the childhood, with the concept of ‘Catching them Young’. Youth and young people have often been manipulated to orchestrate violence and violent behaviours, especially during electoral processes. However, young people also been known to contribute positively to sustainable peace and development in their respective localities.”

On her part, the Head of Gender Unit at United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Ms. Agathe Kéméalo M. ALITILOH – TELOU started by conveying to West African and Sahel women and youth the greetings of Mr. Leonardo Santos Simao, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, and Head of UNOWAS, who is closely monitoring the political and security situation that threatens the peace and stability of the region.

According to her, conflicts are increasingly invading their communities and, as they evolve, taking on new forms with more disastrous consequences for human security, particularly for women and young people, who, as we all know, are the greatest victims.

“United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2250 (2015), the basis for the Working Group’s action, have brought hope for the protection of women and young people and their involvement in conflict prevention/management, decision-making and peace-building processes, with a view to establishing a climate of security, stability and social cohesion in the West African and Sahel sub-region.

“During this meeting, I’m sure we won’t just be discussing the issues at hand, but collectively formulating strong recommendations for joint interstate action to achieve better results and real impact on the ground. IT’S TIME TO ACT!” she added.

Mrs. Theodora W. Anti in delivering the address on behalf of the Convenor of the Ghana Chapter of the UNOWAS Working Group on Women, Youth Peace and Security, Ms Queeneth Tawo stated that the gathering of key stakeholders, especially women has come at a very critical time when the sub-region is faced with serious Economic and security challenges that is shaking the very foundation of democracies in the sub-region.

“With the recent coup d’etat in Niger on the back of those in Mali, and Burkina faso, threats of violence in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, incessant terrorist and extremist attacks, women of the sub-region are more at risk than any other time in the sub-region and more than ever we need more women to participate in peace and security as envisaged by 1325 and 2250,” she stated.  

Source: Ghana/