The African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) initiative on Women in Governance and political participation intents to build on the progress made so far by women leaders for meaningful participation in political and governance processes, and to enhance the positive attitudes towards women‘s leadership in some countries to boost women’s role in leadership and in political participation.
The AWLN Governance Plan of Action addresses the root causes of the above challenges for women’s empowerment in leadership and in partnership with national, regional and global actors to advance the “50/50 agenda of Women in Governance.”
Peace and Security
AU-UN on the first mission - AWLN conducted a joint UN-AU solidarity mission in 2017 to revitalize women’s participation and leadership in peace, security and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. The mission was one of the agreed actions of AWLN. The purpose of the visit was to acquire high level commitment from the government for increased women’s participation and leadership in Nigeria and to express solidarity with women and girls who have been affected by the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin. The Delegation met with conflict-affected women and girls, including visits to IDP camps and with some of the Chibok Girls.
UN-AU solidarity on the Second mission was conducted in Chad, Niger and South Sudan (2018). The mission aimed to further the implementation of the UN Security Council’s agenda on women, peace and security, the African Union’s own framework on women, peace and security, as well as the aspirations and goals of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In South Sudan, the mission brought needed political attention to the crisis; it promoted women’s meaningful participation in all efforts of conflict-resolution, peacebuilding and humanitarian interventions; it demanded accountability for serious crimes committed by armed actors. The visit highlighted gender and sexual-based violence, as well as the voices and roles of women in peace, security and development, including prevention of violent extremism and strengthened climate security.
AWLN Leaders led a solidarity mission in April 2019. UN Women, DPPA and EOSG, in partnership with the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), jointly supported the visit to Cameroon of Ms. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2011 from Liberia, and member of both the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation and of the African Women Leaders Network. The mission sought to advocate for the participation and leadership of Cameroonian women in ongoing initiatives to build peace and promote reconciliation and social cohesion in the context of the current anglophone crisis. Key outcomes of the visit highlighted the worsening yet largely invisible humanitarian crisis, existing opportunities for women to build a strong movement for peace, and the need to clarify the involvement of the diaspora in the crisis, and for the international community to speak with one voice, based on humanitarian principles.
UN-AU on the third Mission was conducted in the Horn of Africa in November 2019.
The African Union Commission and the United Nations led the third Joint African Union-United Nations Solidarity Mission on Women, Peace and Security to the Horn of Africa from Monday 21st to Saturday 26th October 2019. During the six- day visit, the joint delegation engaged with women’s groups, government officials and other stakeholders in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. I led the African Union delegation on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, which was composed of senior AU officials: H.E. Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs (Djibouti and Ethiopia); H.E. Ms. Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs (Eritrea); H.E. Ambassador Fatima K. Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN (Ethiopia and Eritrea) and Ms. Aya Chebbi, AU Youth Envoy (Ethiopia). The United Nations delegation was led by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, H.E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and joined by senior UN Officials, including UN Women Executive Director, H.E. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, UN Economic Commission Executive-Secretary, H.E. Dr. Vera Songwe, and UN Special Representative to the AU, H.E. Ms. Hannah Tetteh.
2. The purpose of the mission was to re-center women’s leadership and participation in peace, security and development, as inscribed in our continental Agenda 2063 “The Africa We Wanr”, Global Agenda 2030 and the joint AU-UN Frameworks on Peace and Security (2017) and Development (2018) and in the call to action of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN).
The African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) is also part of AWLN and is an impact Fund that aims to strengthen economic empowerment of women through accelerating the growth of African women fund managers. It is under the leadership of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and aims to strengthen the economic empowerment of women and accelerate the emergence of African women fund managers. The AWLF represents an exciting opportunity for up-and-coming young African women in the financial sector to participate and become part of this cutting-edge initiative. It has an initial target capital of USD 500 million and expects to crowd in an additional US$ 2 billion the next decade, through and in partnership with African women fund managers. As of June 2019, the fund had an established management structure and had selected potential fund managers. An online platform has also been launched to solicit additional applications for fund managers.
The AWLN also includes a Young Women Leaders Caucus (YWLC) formally launched during the AWLN Second Forum in 2018 whose objective is to ensure young women’s effective and meaningful participation at all levels of the network and support the implementation of network activities. It has a Membership of over 100 young women leaders from Africa and Diaspora, from civil society, politics, private sector, academia, etc. Since its creation, the YWLC now has 3 seats for young women out of 10 in the AWLN steering committee and has approved 50/50 seats and equal representation for young women in the global board and in country chapters. The YWLC has increased young women’s visibility through AWLN communications channels and is leading the intergenerational retreat for young and seasoned women leaders.