UNOWAS in partnership with ECOWAS, G5Sahel and the Manu River Union (MRU) organized a Regional Open Day in Dakar Senegal on December 11th 2017 at the Maison De La Press. This was followed by the Annual Meeting and a training in Communication and Advocacy techniques for members of the Women, Youth, Peace and Security Working Group for West Africa and the Sahel (WYPSWG – WAS).

The regional platform was set up in 2009 and coordinated by UNOWAS and UNWOMEN. Participants from The Gambia were Fatou Kinteh of UNFPA and Chairperson of the Network, Nenneh Touray of Women’s Bureau, member of the Network, Maimuna Sallah of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, and Yadicone Njie Aribo of FAWEGAM and Amie Sillah of Women for Democracy and Development, both members of the network.

Open Day

The Open Day was organized on 11 December. Its main objective was to engage in dialogue with women and young leaders in the region on challenges and necessary synergies for an effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent related resolutions. The Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on women and peace and security on 31 October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security

The open day was also used to popularise the various axes and activities of the 2017 to 2020 action plan for the women, peace and security component of the ECOWAS Women Youth Peace and Security Framework, in order to encourage synergies of actions to be undertaken for inclusive prevention and resolution of conflicts in West Africa and the Sahel.

The Open Day also provided a platform for local women leaders to speak directly with senior UN Leaders at the country level to share their experiences, concerns and priorities as a contribution to National and regional efforts  to resolve conflict and enhance security.

2017 Annual Meeting

The Working Group (WYPSWG – WAS) held its meeting from the 12th – 13th of December 2017 at the UNOWAS Office in Dakar Senegal. The platform allowed members to share actions undertaken within their respective countries and plan together future activities focusing on priorities.

The Working Group in West Africa and the Sahel is an inclusive platform for experience sharing, analysis and participatory evaluation on the West Africa and the Sahel region initiatives and efforts to promote and implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the subsequent ones on the involvement of women as well as the youth in conflict prevention and peace building mechanisms.

There was a panel discussion on women’s participation in the peace process in West Africa and the Sahel with a specific focus on Togo whose case is a concern for all the member states.  During the discussion participants were advised that women and youth should not be seen as victims but rather as change agents, emphasizing on skills transfer for the younger generation.

There was also presentation of reports from the various country representatives on the state of implementation of the National and Regional activities 2017.

The second Day of the Annual Meeting December 13th 2017 participants broke into six different groups which came up with recommendations on the following issues:

Group 1 on visibility and activeness at national and regional level; Group 2 on Resources mobilisation; Group 3: collaboration and partnership; Group 4 on ensuring the representation of the group throughout the national territories of the countries; Group 5 on promotion of regional solidarity; Group 6 on Technical Financial Partners.

Communication and leadership

Following the open day and the annual meeting of the working group (WYPSWG – WAS) a two day training workshop in communication techniques and leadership was organized from the 14th to 15th of December 2017 at the UNOWAS office. The training provided member organisations with communication and leadership skills to better function at the national and regional levels to increase their participation in peace and security issues.

Participants were trained on public speaking, the different types of speeches, internal organisation communication, external organisation communication, institutional communication and digital communication.

The second day the training focused on coaching development, dealing with stress, media training and crisis communication. Trainees were awarded with certificates.

Way Forward:

Trainees should conduct step down training at the national level as well as increase the visibility of the working group through publicity.

The work pan of the Working Group should be submitted to the UN Agencies and The ECOWAS Centre for Gender and Development for funding Considerations.

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