Accra, GHANA—On Wednesday, July 7, 2021, nearly one hundred advocates for women, peace, and security initiatives in West Africa gathered, in person and virtually, to craft a future agenda for stronger security outreach in the region. Supported by the United States Government, the Executive Secretariat of the G5 Sahel (SEG5S), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC), the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Regional Conference took place under the theme ‘Our Stories, Lessons and Marching Forward.’ The one-day, semi-virtual regional conference, hosted by KAIPTC, featured government officials and civil society actors from West Africa and the Sahel.
In collaboration with the SEG5S and KAIPTC, the U.S. Agency for International Development West Africa’s Partnerships for Peace (P4P) Program organized the conference to bring key stakeholders together to discuss and present plans regarding the state of advancement on gender, peace, and security policies, and interventions in participants’ countries, in response to the WPS agenda.
In West Africa, experts acknowledge that success in the most vulnerable parts of the region can only be achieved when citizens, especially women and youth, are given decision-making roles and can advocate for the well-being of their families and security of their communities. During opening remarks, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, applauded organizers for their unyielding work in placing women at the forefront of developing action plans aimed at increasing peace in all communities.
“The U.S. government, through USAID and the Department of Defense, contributes to efforts to address peace and security. Whether undertaking development-focused programs or security exchanges, we highlight the importance of women as peacemakers and their role in conflict resolution by helping women’s groups and platforms adopt peace-building mechanisms within their communities,” Ambassador Sullivan said.
The U.S. government has partnered with the G5 Sahel since 2016. This WPS regional conference is part of the U.S. government’s overall support to the G5 Sahel, which is focused on addressing the complex and volatile threat of violent extremism in the Sahel region. Specifically, subject-matter experts from government agencies in charge of the implementation and integration of gender-related policies focused on lessons learned, identified challenges, and underscored best practices over the past 20 years.
USAID West Africa’s P4P Program is a five-year regional program aimed at capacity-building and providing networking opportunities that support West African regional institutions, national governments, and civil society organizations to more effectively prevent and counter violent extremism in the Sahel region.
For more information on Partnerships for Peace please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/west-africa-regional/fact-sheets/partnerships-peace
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance and advances an integrated approach to development. It promotes accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusive development. https://www.usaid.gov
As Prepared Remarks for Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s participation in the
Regional Conference on Women, Peace, and Security in West Africa
July 7, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:20 noon GMT Accra
Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre
Commandant, The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC)
The Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel,
The G5 Sahel Experts,
Heads and Representatives of State Institutions,
Representatives of Bilateral and Multilateral International Organizations,
USAID Partnerships for Peace Implementing Partners
Civil Society Representatives and
Representatives of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s my pleasure to be here with you today to highlight women, peace, and security in West Africa. The U.S. government is honored to serve as a partner with the G5 Sahel since 2016. This event is part of the U.S. government’s overall support to the G5 Sahel, which is focused on addressing the complex and volatile threat of violent extremism in the Sahel region.
I’d like to thank the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Center for your efforts to promote stability across the region, and for your keen interest in contributing to the advancement of Women, Peace, and Security initiatives across the region.
When it comes to amplifying women’s voices to build peace in the Sahel, it’s well known that if women are excluded, society at large misses out on the opportunity to benefit from women’s vast experiences and insightful perspectives. That’s why events like today are needed, now more than ever!
The theme for this workshop is “Our stories, lessons, and marching forward.” I’m pleased to have so many stakeholders from across the region gathered together, in person and virtually, to learn from one another’s success stories in integrating women, peace, and security. For it is our stories, and the lessons we learn from them, that will help us to build stronger, safer, and more resilient communities.
Today’s event will also help us realize synergies among governmental and civil society organizations that lead to more effective coordination and concrete actions and initiatives on the ground. As we identify key interventions and activities boosting women, peace, and security efforts in the sub-region, communities will move forward in peace towards a prosperous and self-reliant future.
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 acknowledges the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls. Given the current trend of violent extremism in the region, it is important that people at all levels – and most especially women – be included in efforts to prevent or counter violent extremism.
The United States strongly believes that women are a key piece of the puzzle. In fact, through the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, the United States became the first country in the world with a comprehensive law on Women, Peace, and Security.
Here in Ghana, success in the most vulnerable parts of the country can be achieved only when citizens, especially women and youth, engage on and advocate for the well-being of their families and security of their communities.
The U.S. government, through USAID and the Department of Defense, contributes to efforts to address peace and security. Whether undertaking development-focused programs or security exchanges, we highlight the importance of women as peacemakers and their role in conflict resolution by helping women’s groups and platforms adopt peacebuilding mechanisms within their communities. We’re also proud of the U.S. partnership with the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat through USAID and its Partnerships for Peace (P4P) program.
This partnership has given rise to this event and several other transformative efforts, such as the Lexicon on Radicalization and Violent Extremism, the Regional Guide for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Strategy Development, and capacity building and support provided to G5 Sahel and its member states.
I’d like to highlight P4P’s ongoing work in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger on the development, revision, validation, and implementation of those countries’ national strategies to counter violent extremism.
With these strategies in place, we trust that governments are better prepared to respond to and address the factors that make populations vulnerable to extremist groups.
On behalf of the U.S. government, I’d like to reiterate our commitment to continuing our collaboration with the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat to find effective and inclusive solutions which promote peace, security, and development in the West Africa region and the Sahel.
Let us recall the African proverb:“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Stronger together, may the stories you share today, along with the lessons we will share and learn during this regional conference, advance peace and prosperity throughout West Africa.