The Working Group of Women, Youth Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel (WGWYPS-WAS) has adopted a resolution for the establishment of a West Africa and Sahel Women’s Rapid Response Team (RRT).
A communique issued in Accra at the end of the 2023 Annual Meeting of WGWYPS-WAS said the move was a direct consequence of the worsening security situation in recent years, mostly across the Sahel, due to successive military coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina-Faso, and Niger, followed by ECOWAS and Members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s (WAEMU) immediate economic, political, and military sanctions.
The Communique, which was read by Mrs. Theodora W. Anti, Executive Director of the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) and a Member of WGWYPS-WAS, said the RRT aims to bring women and young people to respond to conflict situations in a timelier way for more positive and lasting outcomes.
WGWYPS-WAS is an inclusive platform for experience sharing, analysis, and participatory evaluation of initiatives and efforts in the West African and Sahel region for the promotion and implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000), 2250 (2015) and subsequent ones, on the involvement of women and youth in conflict prevention and peacebuilding mechanisms.
The aim of the week-long Accra Meeting on the theme: “Unconstitutional Take-over of Governments and Transitions in the Sahel Region,” was to strengthen the understanding and coordination of action in the implementation and follow-up of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000), 2250 (2015), and subsequent ones on women, youth, peace, and security.
The Communique said the RRT recognized that women have a natural gift of peacebuilding and effecting negotiations as done in families, and that this must be positively nurtured during conflict.
It noted that as a result, the RRT was tasked by the Working Group to initiate rapid interventions that enable both appropriate and proportionate decisions and sanctions against a population, especially, women and children.
It said the Accra Meeting made at least 46 recommendations to governments, ECOWAS, civil society and the United Nations and other partners, on concrete actions they should consider ensuring that women and youth leaders and mediators contributed to political dialogues, mediation, and other peace efforts in the region.
The communique said of great concern to the Working Group was the situation in Niger, particularly the adverse socio-economic and political effects of the transition.
Touching on the ECOWAS economic sanctions on Niger, the Communique said it was worsening the lives of Nigerien women, children, and youth.
It said beyond Niger, reports were also received of spill-over effects of the sanctions on neighboring countries.
“Thus, whilst the Working Group’s recommendations span across the short, medium, and long term, it calls on ECOWAS and all Heads of States in West Africa and the Sahel to support an immediate reversal of economic sanctions on Niger, and the reinstitution of political dialogue and mediation efforts, with women and young people centrally placed in this process,” it said.