The Women Peace and Security Communication Network (WPS CommNet) has been inaugurated in Accra.
The formation of the network is part of the ongoing media engagement strategy to support the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and related resolutions and the overall women?s Agenda.
The inaugural ceremony was also used to mark the 2015 International Women?s Day celebration; which fell on March 8.
The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Major General Obed Akwa, in his inaugural address in Accra, said, the critical, yet under-valued and under-utilized roles and contributions of women to conflict prevention and peace building was well documented, with various analyses concluding that women?s direct participation in peace processes remains the least implemented component of the UN resolution.
He said their under-representation and invisibility at the upper reaches of state institutions, including security services had remained relatively unchanged over the years.
He noted that recent UN Women?s facts and figures showed that between 1990 and 2010, only 92 of the 585 peace agreements contained any reference to women; around the same period, thus 1992-2011, fewer than four per cent of signatories to peace agreements were women, with females constituting less than 10 per cent of negotiators at the peace tables.
Maj. Gen. Akwa said women?s representation in Parliament globally stands at 22 per cent while they occupy a modest 13 per cent of ministerial positions and accounted for less than 20 per cent of heads of UN field missions.
?This picture is despite the fact that women are known to have played pivotal roles in transforming conflict situations in some of the most protracted conflicts of the century,? he said.
He said half way through the Africa women?s decade, ?we are beginning to see developments that also point to a greater recognition of women?s contribution to peace efforts on the continent?.
Adding that first is the appointment by the Chairperson of the AU in 2014 of a Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security to champion women?s concerns and interests within the African peace and security architecture.
?Then also is the establishment of the Gender, Peace and Security Program (GPSP) by the Department of Peace and Security in the same year to further the integration of the gender dimension into the AU?s peace processes. These are very important to the implementation of Resolution 1325 at the continental level.?
He said both the Gender Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission and the Gender Division of the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA) have played key roles in monitoring the 1325 domestication process in West Africa and sharing best practices that contributed to the implementation efforts.
Maj. Gen Akwa said at the national level, Ghana was among several countries to develop an action plan for implementation.
He said although the time frame for the implementation of the Ghana Action Plan (GHANAP) 1325 had expired, the issues raised in the framework were still very relevant to the realization of the aspirations of the global framework.
He said women and girls were still targets of conflict-related sexual violence; female voters and candidates were more likely to be targeted for intimidation than men in elections in conflict prone areas; women commissioners were a minority on post-conflict truth and reconciliation commissions and they counted for three and 10 per cent of military and police peacekeepers respectively.
?As long as these patterns of inequity persist, it is imperative for us to continue the search for strategies and initiatives for addressing the imbalance,? he said.
He observed that the media engagement strategy initiated by the WPSI, which gave rise to the formation of the network, was just one of the countless initiatives being taken by advocates, implementers and stakeholders to help call attention to the issues.
?It is my belief that a Network of advocates, implementers, experts and activists drawn from civil society, government agencies, academia and the international development community offer a unique opportunity for making sure that the issue remains in the social consciousness,? the Commandant said.
?A WPS Communication Network should contribute to ensuring that women?s perspectives and contributions are no longer viewed as peripheral to peace processes.?
Dr Josephine Odera, Representative and Regional Director, UN Women, said issue of women, peace and security were essential for international peace and security.