“We need more women leaders.” Mary Robinson calls for a greater role for women in peace building

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Wednesday, 23 January, 2013

Mary Robinson has been in Addis Ababa for the binannual meeting of the Gender is My Agenda Campaign, to meet Sudanese and South Sudanese women leaders, and stress the importance of involving women in the peace process between the two nations.

Mary Robinson travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week to underscore The Elders’ conviction that the active participation of women is the key to building sustainable peace in Sudan and South Sudan. She met Sudanese and South Sudanese women leaders who are calling for the inclusion of women in the peace process between the two countries, and shared their message with the leadership of the African Union.

Women are the key to creating lasting and durable peace

During their visit to Sudan and South Sudan in 2012, the Elders emphasised the importance of including women in peace building, both between and within the two countries. When given the opportunity, women can play a decisive role in peace building efforts, helping to reconstruct their societies and create lasting and durable peace.

Mary Robinson met representatives of the Coalition of Women Leaders from Sudan and South Sudan today to discuss how to increase the participation of women in peace efforts. Following this discussion, she stressed the importance of integrating women into the peace process at meetings with the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner.

Mary Robinson speaking at the Gender is My Agenda Campaign press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Mary Robinson speaking at the Gender is My Agenda Campaign press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Africa needs more women leaders

On 23 January, Mary Robinson took part in the 21st biannual meeting of the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. Covering topics such as the role of women in peace processes and violence against women in post-conflict situations, the meeting brought together more than a hundred African women.

At the GIMAC press conference, Mary Robinson spoke about the importance of women’s leadership. She highlighted the rising numbers of women leaders in Africa, headlined by the fact that the continent now has two women presidents. Mary Robinson also emphasised that the voices of women from all levels of society must be heard: “We need more women leaders, and we need more connection between the women who reach the top [levels of] leadership and the women who are coping with these problems on the ground.”

Mary Robinson also met over 30 members of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a movement of women working for social and economic change around the world. She later took the young women to meet Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Addressing the group, Chairperson Dlamina-Zuma told them they were remarkable women, and echoed Mary Robinson’s message for them to think big and become future leaders of Africa: “If you dream it, it will happen.”

Watch the video of the GIMAC press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with opening remarks from Mary Robinson and discussion on female empowerment, women in conflict and Africa's development

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