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IGAD Women call for inclusion in peacebuilding

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) women’s peace and security forum has called for gender equality and women’s empowerment within the region.

In a conference held in Nairobi on Tuesday, the stakeholders called for the inclusion of women in conflict resolution in the Horn of Africa and the whole region since they are essential actors in peace and play an important role in conflict resolution.

State Department for Gender and Affirmative Action Principal Secretary (PS) Veronica Nduva stated that empowering women in the security agenda was a priority for the Kenyan government and for IGAD as well.

“We are taking a significant step towards advancing gender equality, promoting women’s empowerment, and ensuring that the voices of women are heard and integrated into decision-making,” Nduva said.

She emphasised that the participation of women was not a matter of human rights but a programmatic approach to building resilient and peaceful societies.

Nduva added that the conference stands as a statement of a collective determination to address the challenges and seize the opportunities that lay ahead.

Nduva also stated that the IGAD forum serves as a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of innovative ideas in the lives of women and their families.

“Through this forum, we aim to shed light on the crucial issues surrounding women’s rights and peacebuilding within the region. Together, we can create a world where every woman lives in a society that values her and respects her rights. This is an opportunity to strengthen the partnership, forge new collaborations, and chart a path forward that will contribute to the betterment of our societies,” Nduva noted.

Osman Djama Ousman, Legal Advisor in the Ministry of Gender in Djibouti, who was in attendance, stated that “promotion of gender is our responsibility, adding that IGAD is committed to promoting peace, security, and stability in the Horn of Africa”.

“Women are essential actors in peace and play an important role in conflict resolution. Women and children suffer sexual violence and atrocities, and we should ensure that all women have access to justice, education, and economic opportunities,” Ousman said.

He emphasised that the rights of women should be respected and their contribution should be valued, including women in all discussions because of their unique perspective and experience.

Ousman assured women that they have a place in society, noting that when a woman contributes to the economy, the whole country gains.

IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyeh said that the strong participation of women has yielded a very important outcome.

Gebeyeh dedicated the session to Sudan, which is facing conflict, saying that IGAD was prepared to support the upcoming election process (both the pre-election and post-election processes) by ensuring a free, fair, and peaceful election.

He said that IGAD has been instrumental in bringing peace and has consistently worked with the United Nations to be a voice for member states facing conflict.

“I want the organisers of this meeting to centre their discussion on being the voice for the voiceless in Sudan. That brings this meeting to reality, echoing our voice to the people in Sudan who are suffering and those that are facing a lot of challenges, including losing their lives,” Gebeyeh said.

He added that more than 80 per cent of women suffer during conflicts, and such is the case of the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, which are filled with more women and children than men, insisting that these were issues happening in the region and they must be addressed so that it does not happen ever again.

By Stephanie Ndunge

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