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women, peace and security

The issue of “women, peace and security” remains a priority both on the agenda of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, as well as on that of the AU Peace and Security Council. Indeed, the African Union declared 2010-2020 the “African Women Decade” with the overarching theme of “gender equality and women’s empowerment”. The year 2015 was dedicated to “Women empowerment and development towards Agenda 2063”, while the Year 2016 is “the year of human rights with particular focus on the rights of women”. 

By choosing to bring women at the center of the continental deliberations, the Africa Union was reiterating the continent’s resolve to addressing all forms of barriers that impede the emancipation of women and girls in Africa and strengthen their agency and rights, through priority areas such as education, health, participation in decision-making at all levels, economic empowerment and peace and security. 

In January 2014, the African Union became the first continental organization to appoint a Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, with the specific mandate to “Ensure that the voices of women and children, particularly those affected by conflict are heard and to advocate at the highest levels for the rightful participation and contribution of women in conflict resolution and peace building”.  

To enhance the protection of women’s rights, the AU seeks to promote international and regional commitments on peace and security, as well as to strengthen women’s participation in peace and security efforts through the AU Peace and Security Department, the Peace and Security Council and the Panel of the Wise. 


The African Women Leaders' Network, established in 2017, serves as a continental platform to galvanize women’s leadership of Africa towards lasting peace and sustainable development in all sectors and at all levels, building on, and working with, existing women networks with the support of the African Union and the United Nations. The Network builds on African women’s leadership to increase women’s participation in decision-making through peer learning and mentoring, enhanced solidarity, advocacy and capacity-building among other strategies.


Women leaders across sectors and generations came together in New York in June 2017, to launch the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) with the support of the African Union Commission and the United Nations the Federal Republic of Germany. Six AWLN pillars were adopted on: (1) Governance; (2) Peace and Security; (3) Finance and Women’s Entrepreneurship; (4) Youth’s Leadership; (5) Agriculture and (6) Social Mobilization. Inter-generational partnership is recognized as strategic to help move the movement forward. The Network currently has over 500 members and continues to grow exponentially. 

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