Under the auspices of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, Mr. Huang Xia, members of the Advisory Board for Women, Peace and Security for the Great Lakes region convened the 12th session on 12 May 2020. The members who were connected via videoconference from several countries in the region discussed ways to mobilize regional and international support to advance the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the context of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and in upcoming elections slated for several countries of the region.
Participants included notable women leaders from the region, high level representatives of international organizations, including the African Union, UNWOMEN, the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, government officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, and representatives of regional civil society organizations. They discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls and recommended targeted mitigating measures to support these vulnerable groups in order to sustain the recent gains on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. “As members of the Advisory Board, we must redouble our efforts to stimulate advocacy actions at local, national and regional levels to form a common front, not only for prevention and protection, but also for a socio-economic transformation which will take into account the priorities of women and girls in all countries of the Great Lakes region,” Special Envoy Xia said in his opening remarks.
Discussions focused on key challenges and opportunities for advancing the WPS agenda in the respective national priorities, especially in the measures adopted to tackle COVID-19, and for building stronger partnerships with Civil Society Organizations in the fight against the pandemic. The participants encouraged the United Nations Secretary-General to implement his strategic plan of action calling for an increase in the participation of women at decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes.
Finally, the meeting discussed the revitalization of the Women and Youth fora of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and the increased role of Ministers of Gender of the countries of the region in efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women, and in advancing WPS related matters.