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Somali women vow to champion peace
and counter violent extremism   

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somali women wrapped up a peace forum in Mogadishu on Thursday evening by resolving to embrace peace, reconciliation and prevent violent extremism.

The UN-backed Women’s Peace Forum which brought together hundreds of women from Galmudug, Puntland, South West, Jubbaland and HirShabelle states and Benadir region, saw participants recommit to advance peace efforts and defeat extremist elements in the Horn of Africa nation.

“Women really want to have peace; and to have reconciliation is also very important. As women, when it comes to reconciliation, we are not in there,” said Fartun Abdisalam Adan, Director of Elman Peace and Human Rights Foundation, according to a statement issued by the UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Abdisalam stressed the importance of women taking a front seat in reconciliation efforts in the Horn of African nation.

“When it comes to reconciliation, women might just talk, but we are never involved. This is certainly a new beginning for Somali women to really be part of the reconciliation and to actually have peace in Somalia,” she said.

The forum is a culmination of four months of national consultations to determine ways and strategies to enhance women’s role in peace, reconciliation and the prevention of violent extremism consistent with the national prevention and countering violent extremism (PCVE) strategy and national reconciliation framework.

During the forum, the women discussed ways of preventing and countering violent extremism, women’s role in it, and strategies that would enhance women’s participation in peace, security and reconciliation efforts.

Peter de Clercq, deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator who closed the forum stressed the vital role of Somali women in securing and maintaining sustained peace in Somalia. He stressed however, that their role in making peace often goes unrecognized.

De Clercq said the Somali women play a key role in supporting their families and communities and keeping the society together during conflict.

“However, women are often excluded from the formal peace processes; their role in peacebuilding, as peace-makers and agents of change is not fully recognized, hence the importance of this Forum as a step toward ensuring women have a place at the table,” he added.

He also reiterated that the United Nations will continue to support initiatives of women to materialize the commitments and decisions of this Forum.

Participants underscored the important role women play in the prevention, mediation and resolution of conflicts.



African women judicial actors vow to curb gender-based violence

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- African women justice actors have inked a commitment to stepping up efforts to combat gender-based violence (GBV) in the continent.

Representatives of associations of women judges, magistrates and prosecutors also resolved to establish the International Association of Women Judges-Africa Region Forum to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

In a joint statement issued on Sunday following a two-day conference that ended in Nairobi on Saturday evening, the judicial actors resolved to ensure that women judges and national associations undertake to carry out sustained advocacy to curb sexual and gender-based violence within their jurisdictions.

“Participants observed that GBV was prevalent in the region despite a raft of legislation and policy frameworks to address the problem,” it said.

“They said that GBV was rampant due to weak enforcement mechanisms, lack of awareness, culture, poverty and gender discrimination and called for strategies that transcend legal and policy intervention,” the statement said.

The conference brought together delegates from Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Somalia and Zambia.

During the two-day conference, the judicial officials shared experiences from their various regions on the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of GBV cases.

The forum provided an opportunity for participants to engage and share experiences and good practices in handling GBV cases in the region with the ultimate aim of combating systemic impunity toward GBV.

During the conference, Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga said despite the strict and punitive legislation, the challenge of GBV still persists in Kenya.

Maraga noted that currently a majority of GBV offenses go unreported in part because of a non-conducive justice system or heavy stigma and harmful norms and attitudes that lead to silence of their victims. 

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