Women’s proven role in conflict resolution makes the unique position of First Ladies even more important as agents for resolving conflicts in Africa.
“Men make wars, women make peace. Women must therefore be included in peace making, peace building, conflict resolution, and reconstruction efforts.” African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina told guests at the inauguration of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) state-of-the-art headquarters in Abuja heard on Tuesday.
“There can be no development without peace and security,” said Dr Adesina in a speech delivered on his behalf by the African Development Bank’s Director General for Nigeria, Lamin Barrow.
Nigeria’s first lady and outgoing chair of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (https://apo-opa.info/3MkXR0s), Aisha Buhari, emphasised the significance of women’s role in conflict resolution.
“As women leaders and mothers, our role in peace and security is to continue to say no to the culture and structures of violence that make people accept and unleash violence on innocent victims, the majority of whom are women and children,” she said.
She told the gathering that the African First Ladies Peace Mission has received the endorsement and support of partners led by the African Union. AFLPM has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Union to cooperate on peacebuilding, Buhari said.
The African Development Bank has partnered with the African Union to develop security-indexed investment bonds to help mobilise funding to address the root causes of political instability, protect businesses and livelihoods, and rebuild infrastructure in conflict-affected areas.
The bank is also providing support to vulnerable and internally displaced women living in refugee camps in the Sahel region.
“Nothing works without peace and security,” Adesina said, adding his voice to the African Union’s call to ‘silence the guns.’ “Many parts of Africa face major security challenges from conflict and war. Today, 85% of Africans live in or near a country in conflict.”
Women and children are disproportionately affected by wars, he said, adding that sexual violence, abductions, forced conscription and trafficking in women must end.
“Women’s voices must never be silenced,” Adesina added.
The Bank chief described African first ladies as critical to the efforts of African leaders and the African Union to ensure a peaceful and secure Africa by 2063.
“Your focus on addressing violence, promoting the role of women, fostering a culture of peace, and reducing conflict, are truly commendable,” Adesina said.
“The African Development Bank stands ready to support your efforts and we look forward to a strong partnership with your organisation.”
He also stressed the importance of a collective responsibility to unite in order to resolve conflicts, break cycles of violence and address fragility.