Women Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa: A Background

United Nations Security Council´s Resolution 1325, adopted unanimously in 2000, calls for the increased participation of women as decision makers in conflict and post-conflict environments around the world, and in this case, the Horn of Africa.  In continuation of this resolution, the UN Security Council has adopted four more resolutions: 1820 (2009), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2010), and 1960 (2011).  All of these resolutions work together to advance the role of women in conflict and post-conflict areas, and protect their rights and security.  The resolutions mandate that Member States implement National Action Plans on UNSCR1325, and to date there are 35 countries which have done so.  These require Member States to take initiative in the following areas: women´s participation in decision and peace-making, protecting women and girls, and gender training.  Currently, Uganda is the only state from this area that has adopted a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  In the Horn of Africa, it has been ratified by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda.

A group called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has combined eight member states to promote regional development in the Horn of Africa.  Its members include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.  In 2009, IGAD held the Women Parliamentary Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss the level of female participation in Member states.  Topics discussed included quota systems and how to achieve the target ratio of 50:50 representation between men and women by 2015.

Individual efforts have been made by the individual states of the Horn of Africa to expand the role of women as decision makers:

  •  Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 designating 25% of representation at all levels of government to women.
  • In South Sudan´s interim constitution, 25% of representation was designated to women.
  • Article 12 of 2004´s Transitional Federal Charter in Somalia made a minimum requirement of 12% women representatives in parliament.  Although this number was not very high, it was a start in the right direction.
  • In Eritrea, 30% of seats in the legislative assembly are reserved for women.  Since 1979 there has been a National Federation of Eritrean Women, which works to advance the equality of women in the country.
  • The 1995 Constitution in Uganda gave women a 25% quota in parliament and 30% in local governments.  The Ugandan Women´s Network (UWONET) is an advocacy and lobbying coalition of national women´s organization and individuals in the country.  At Uganda´s Makerere University, there is a Department of Women and Gender Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
  • In 2002, a law in Djibouti established a 20% minimum requirement of women to high ranking positions.  In 2008, the national Human Rights Commission was created in Djibouti, and 40% of its membership was female.
  • The Kenyan government has started several initiatives to empower women.  The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development began the women´s enterprise fund in 2006, which works to economically empower women.

The Horn of Africa is an area that provides opportunities to incorporate women as leaders amid conflict; however this is not achieved across these countries with great success.  Awareness of UNSCR 1325 and its successors must be promoted in the area.  The implementation of these resolutions working alongside groups like IGAD or the G40 will develop the role of women as leaders in the Horn of Africa.


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