Expert Meeting on the Panel of the Wise Report on Mitigating Vulnerabilities of Women and Children in Armed Conflicts: Dakar, Senegal, 24- 25 October 2011


October 24-25, 2011

Hosted by the PanAfrican Centre for Gender, Peace and Development
Dakar, Sénégal

African Experts Convene in Dakar to Offer Recommendations to African Union and African Heads of State on Mitigating Vulnerabilities of Women and Children in Armed Conflict

At the two-day Expert Meeting on the African Union Panel of the Wise Expert Report on Mitigating Vulnerabilities of Women and Children in Armed Conflicts, hosted by the FAS PanAfrican Centre for Gender, Peace, and Development (PAC) in Dakar, Senegal, October 24-25, 2011, experts reiterated the importance of addressing the suffering of women and children in armed conflict and offered concrete recommendations to alleviate their plight.

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of H. E. Mrs Awa Ndiaye, Senegalese Minister for Culture, Gender and Livelihood, Technical Advisor Mme Khote Guisse observed that the issue being discussed is of critical importance. “Peace is a pre-requisite for all development processes and it will, however, remain absent as long as women and children will continue to suffer violence”.
Mr Innocent Balemba Zahinda, Team Leader for the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Team of Experts: Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict noted that “the meeting indicates an acknowledgement of the impact of conflict on women and children in Africa, and the commitment of African organizations in addressing this issue”.
Dr Mary Chinery-Hesse, Member of the Panel of the Wise, noted that “the issue of gender has to be fitted into all that we do. As women are vulnerable, so are our efforts fragile; people who have been able to keep up the momentum are to be celebrated”.

The report of the Panel was first discussed at a May 2010 AU workshop, which really put the issue of women and children in armed conflicts on the agenda. Acknowledging the important role of women in the affairs of Africa, Dr Chinery-Hesse highlighted the link between a country’s development and its human resources. Thus, it is important that all people should be put in a position where they would realise their potential to the fullest.

In her statement, Ms Litha Musyimi-Ogana, Director of the African Union Commission Women, Gender and Development Directorate, welcomed all the participants on behalf of the chairperson of the AU Commission. She explained that “a great deal has taken place since the presentation of the initial report in March 2011 in Addis Ababa. The Peace and Security Council has initiated an annual session on women and children, training workshops have been held on engendering AU peace operations and training the African Standby Force, and a training-of-trainers manual has been produced for AU peace support operations, which will include a code of conduct”.
For her part, Ms Bineta Diop, Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarité, recalled that “the Panel of the Wise has had the occasion to express its concerns about armed conflict situations in Africa, and the impact of conflict on women and children, condemning violence against women and children in conflict zones. This concern for the victims has justified the identification of the theme of the next Panel Report as priority, and the will to put it on African leaders’ agendas”.

The Expert Meeting was organized by the African Union Peace and Security Department, in partnership with Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and the International Peace Institute (IPI). The resulting Report will be finalized and presented at a forthcoming African Union summit, after which time it will be published and submitted to African Heads of State and Government.

Dakar Workshop agenda Final - English / French

Dakar workshop Aide Memoire Final - English / French

Dakar workshop - FAS Press Release - English / French