The 2023 annual general meeting (AGM) of the UNOWAS Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel (WGWYPS-WAS) was held in Accra. Aiming to improve comprehension and coordination of actions in the implementation and follow-up of UNSCR 1325 and UNSCR 2250 on Women, Youth, Peace, and Security, the event, held from September 18 to September 22, 2023, brought together stakeholders, experts, and advocates from across West Africa and the Sahel.
The theme “Unconstitutional take-over of governments and transitions in the Sahel Region” was purposefully selected to draw attention to the need for an inclusive solution to the present crises in West Africa and the Sahel based on current events in the region.
The AGM funded by the UNOWAS, UN Women and the UNDP, also provided a platform to concretely propose strategies for greater involvement of women and youth in political dialogue in the ongoing crisis in the region.
The Significance of the UNOWAS Working Group:
The UNOWAS Working Group on Women, Youth, and Peace and Security was established in April 2009 to promote gender-responsive and youth-inclusive strategies for sustainable peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel. It serves as a space/network for experience sharing, analysis, and participatory evaluation of initiatives and efforts for promoting and recognizing the essential roles that women and young people play in conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict recovery.
As a member of the Working Group, FOSDA represented by the Executive Director, Theodora Williams- Anti and WPS program Officer, Dorothy Barnes participated actively in the 5-day AGM. This includes the Maiden Conference led by the Ghana Chapter on September 21, 2023, on ‘Accelerating the Women, Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda in Ghana’. September 21, 2023, also doubled as the commemoration day for both the International Day of Peace and Founders Day.
At the end of the AGM, based on discussions on the current political crisis in the Sahel and the role women and young people play; discussions on synergy, coordination, partnership and planning among members of the WGWYPS-WAS; and discussions on 2024 key regional priorities to strengthen WGWYPS-WAS role in promoting peace and security, the working group adopted a position statement on unconstitutional seizures of power and the absence of women and young people from peace efforts in West Africa and the Sahel. A Term of reference was also developed for a rapid response team (RRT) made up of women and young people with the main task of initiating rapid interventions for appropriate responses to conflict situations in a timely way for more positive and lasting outcomes.
FOSDA joins the Working Group in hoping that these new developments will address the lack of transparency and opportunity for women and young people to participate in political discussions, mediation, and decision-making in peace talks and other peace efforts in the region.