Four IPSS alumni join FemWise-Africa Network
Four members of the IPSS community were selected to join the network: Ms. Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe), Ms. Mable Chawinga (Malawi), Ms. Ledet Teka (Ethiopia) and Ms. Grace Atuhaire (Uganda).
24 September 2018
All across Africa, women are an integral part of the community, and there is no doubt that they should take key roles when it comes to decision-making during peace processes. A July 2016 African Union (AU) report indicates that while the AU Commission is the only continental organization to have achieved gender parity in its executive leadership, “Representation of women among Special Representatives and Envoys, as well as Heads of Missions/Liaison Offices, remains significantly low”.
Over the years, the AU has taken various measures to increase women representation at all levels of its structures. In this regard, in their quest to implement gender mainstreaming into the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the Peace and Security Council created Femwise-Africa, an AU Women Network in conflict prevention and mediation, initiated under the umbrella of the AU Panel of Wise.
IPSS takes pride in its students’ contribution to making the voices of African women heard in peace processes through FemWise-Africa. Four members of the IPSS community were selected to join the network: Ms. Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe), Ms. Mable Chawinga (Malawi) and Ms. Ledet Teka (Ethiopia), participants in the 13th cohort of the Executive MA in Managing Peace and Security in Africa (MPSA), as well as Grace Atuhaire (Uganda), an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Joint MA in Global Studies between IPSS and the University of Leipzig in Germany. Ms. Atuhaire currently works as a Communications Officer at IPSS. These four women, having experienced the impact of conflict in their respective countries, recently participated in the first induction of the FemWise-Africa Network that took place from 21-22 June 2018 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Mable Chawinga, a senior police superintendent providing security to the people and property in Malawi, emphasizes, “As a young woman, I feel I can contribute towards bringing peace in conflict countries in Africa by helping in the consolidation of a peaceful Africa”.
The first induction training for successful applicants to the network was led by FemWise co-chair, H.E. Catherine Samba-Panza, former President of the Central African Republic (CAR). Ambassador Smaїl Chergui, AUC Commissioner for Peace and Security, as well as numerous representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the AU, and international partners, were also present. The induction training reviewed the state of peace and security in Africa and conceptualized suggestions in supporting synergies between FemWise and current efforts of RECs across the continent.
The training brought clarity and understanding of the issues, opportunities and challenges women face in preventive diplomacy and mediation. Newly inducted members were also given the opportunity to reflect and share their experiences and visions for their future roles in FemWise, namely in the areas of capacity building, needs/priorities for training, as well as engagement and outreach strategies.
For Ledet Teka, who has worked as a humanitarian and communications officer with the United Nations (UN) and other international and local organizations in Addis Ababa, she says “It’s an honour and privilege to be among the most experienced women in the area of conflict prevention and mediation who have gained experience not only in Africa but beyond the continent”.
Grace Atuhaire, a Ugandan passionate about mediation, youth, women and leadership, adds, “FemWise Africa is an opportunity for young women to gain mentorship on practical regional interventions for peace across to the continent”.
Jestina Mukoko is a human rights activist in Zimbabwe and has been working as the National Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) for 10 years. ZPP monitors breaches of peace and maps conflict throughout the country. Jestina believes that, “If women are brought to the mediation table, we could see more concrete peace agreements on the continent”. She also states, “If there is anything that has to be done for [women] it cannot be done without them”.
FemWise-Africa, established in 2017, is a subsidiary mechanism of the five-member Panel of the Wise and the expanded Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise). Three of the five members of the Panel of the Wise are women. The establishment of the FemWise-Africa initiative is a timely response to the concerns of women’s participation in mediation and conflict prevention. The advocacy of women in peacemaking is enabled in the empowerment of the next generation which is embodied by these four determined women. In the next three years, FemWise-Africa strives to become fully institutionalized and develop relevant national legislation to operationalize FemWise-Africa at national and local levels.