Strengthening women’s participation in peace and conflict resolution processes in Abyei
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) through its Gender Advisory Team conducted a training on basic gender and human rights concepts, women’s rights, and women, peace and security as well as the critical role of women’s participation in reconciliation processes and conflict resolution for Misseriya community leaders in Todach and Diffra on 13 and 14 May, respectively.
Twenty-three community leaders (17 women leaders and 6 male traditional leaders including judges) drawn from six localities of the Northern part of Abyei attended the training.
The participants identified the gender and women’s rights issues in Abyei, the different community leadership structures as well as the status of women’s representation at decision-making levels in the Northern part of Abyei. Challenges to women’s participation at decision-making levels were also discussed including the patriarchal nature of the society, high illiteracy rates amongst women, disunity amongst the women, as well as competing priorities for women.
The participants were supported to develop a strategy to address women’s issues in Abyei including, promotion of women’s rights and participation, protection of women from Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and local community level strategies to promote women’s economic empowerment.
The participants also agreed on a strategy to engage women leaders from the Ngok Dinka (ND) communities including mobilization of women at the grassroots levels, peace letters to the ND communities as well as direct engagement with Abyei administration, among others.
Additionally, a “Traditional Leaders Gender Champion Network” comprising six male traditional leaders was established to support women’s peace initiatives and advocate for women’s rights in Abyei. The network will be expanded to include other influential male traditional leaders from the Northern part of Abyei. Women leaders also agreed to establish a women leaders coordination mechanism that will include representatives from 18 identified villages in the Northern part of Abyei.
The training was one of a series of joint trainings planned for women leaders from the Misseriya and ND communities to promote reconciliation and women’s participation in conflict resolution in Abyei. The ND participants were, however, unable to attend the workshop.
The Misseriya leaders encouraged UNISFA to conduct a similar workshop for the ND leaders and continue with efforts towards bringing the women from both communities together to engage in dialogue. They noted that without dialogue between the two communities, realizing peace in Abyei was impossible.
UNISFA will continue its engagement with both communities to promote women’s role in reconciliation and conflict resolution and support the Misseriya community to operationalize its strategy.