I agree - qualitative participation is what we need

20 October 2005

UN1325 and Women in Southern Africa

There has been a major call for the implementation of the laudable articles entrenched in UN Resolution 1325, and should not be mere words for display. Many civil society organisations and advocacy women groups have articulated collaborative approaches with UN departments and supportive member states regionally and internationally, towards the advancement and implementation of Resolution 1325. These groups and individuals have pooled their efforts, networks and expertise to sensitise masses on the positive tenets and international commitments enshrined in the Security Council Resolution 1325, and are determined to ensure these commitments are fully implemented at all levels of decision-making.

UN1325 is yet to prove successful in the participation of women in decision-making in southern Africa, only Mozambique, South Africa and Seychelles have reached the 30 per cent mark required by SADC Declaration for Gender Equity by 2005. Rwanda has set the landmark with 49 per cent representation of women at all levels of decision-making, the highest in the world, only Sweden has recorded such high representation of women in governance of around 44 per cent. This has led to a call for 50 per cent representation of women at all levels of decision-making at the last SADC Summit held in August 2005. The continent has been privileged to record 3 women deputy presidents in Uganda (1997), Zimbabwe (2004) and now South Africa (2005). The continent is yet to have an elected female president, but has been privileged to have a plethora of female presidential candidates in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and recently in Liberia to mention a few! Ruth Sando Perry was appointed as the first African female president in Liberia’s Interim National Government after the brutal civil war ended from 1996-97(national elections brought Charles Taylor to power).

Despite these classic opportunities resonating the positive outcomes of UN Resolution 1325, political inclusivity is still marginal in many of the southern African countries, with a request to member states to amend constitutions and electoral laws to accommodate the full participation of women in political processes. Furthermore, requesting the qualitative participation of women in deference to quantitative participation of women in decision making. In Uganda the least qualification required for women to participate in governance is a University degree or its equivalent. Women need to be innovative and be effective as parliamentarians, by understanding legislative structures and the functions of governance, towards advancing the goals and aspirations of women’s interests particularly in a masculine dominated system of government. Women’s experiences in peace and security are invaluable and should be systematically incorporated as part of early warning mechanisms and documented regularly through research publications and websites such as this!



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