On Wednesday, July 7, 2021, nearly one hundred advocates for women, peace, and security initiatives in West Africa gathered, in person and virtually, to craft a future agenda for stronger security outreach in the region.
Supported by the United States Government, the Executive Secretariat of the G5 Sahel (SEG5S), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC), the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Regional Conference took place under the theme ‘Our Stories, Lessons and Marching Forward.’
The one-day, semi-virtual regional conference, hosted by KAIPTC, featured government officials and civil society actors from West Africa and the Sahel.
In collaboration with the SEG5S and KAIPTC, the U.S. Agency for International Development West Africa’s Partnerships for Peace (P4P) Program organized the conference to bring key stakeholders together to discuss and present plans regarding the state of advancement on gender, peace, and security policies, and interventions in participants’ countries, in response to the WPS agenda.
In West Africa, experts acknowledge that success in the most vulnerable parts of the region can only be achieved when citizens, especially women and youth, are given decision-making roles and can advocate for the well-being of their families and security of their communities. During opening remarks, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, applauded organizers for their unyielding work in placing women at the forefront of developing action plans aimed at increasing peace in all communities.
“The U.S. government, through USAID and the Department of Defense, contributes to efforts to address peace and security. Whether undertaking development-focused programs or security exchanges, we highlight the importance of women as peacemakers and their role in conflict resolution by helping women’s groups and platforms adopt peacebuilding mechanisms within their communities,” Ambassador Sullivan said.
The U.S. government has partnered with the G5 Sahel since 2016. This WPS regional conference is part of the U.S. government’s overall support to the G5 Sahel, which is focused on addressing the complex and volatile threat of violent extremism in the Sahel region. Specifically, subject-matter experts from government agencies in charge of the implementation and integration of gender-related policies focused on lessons learned, identified challenges, and underscored best practices over the past 20 years.
USAID West Africa’s P4P Program is a five-year regional program aimed at capacity-building and providing networking opportunities that support West African regional institutions, national governments, and civil society organizations to more effectively prevent and counter violent extremism in the Sahel region.