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Norway joins South Africa in celebrating women’s month

30 August 2019
Peace building is one of the top focus areas of Norway’s cooperation with South Africa, and Women, Peace and Security has been high on the agenda of both countries for years. The Royal Norwegian Embassy has therefore been partnering with Department of International Relations & Cooperation (DIRCO) and Centre for Mediation in Africa (CMA) at University of Pretoria on Women, Peace and Security since 2013.

Photo: Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and former Norwegian Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Bjørnestad with a participant at the graduation ceremony. (Dirco)

The objective of the training programme is to work towards the objectives of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which was adopted in 2000. One of the outcomes planned for the current phase is – “knowledge and expertise for conflict resolution, mediation and negotiations are acquired and applied by South African Women”.

The five-day workshop, held in early August, is a contribution to development of capacity of women mediators. Since the launch of the program more than 300 local women mediators have received training in conflict resolution in the August training sessions. The training of South African women is but one element of the program that also features training of women from the region and South African youth.
This year, around 36 women from different backgrounds including local communities, NGO’s, relevant think tanks and government departments participated. Topics covered included:
•    Overview of Resolution 1325,  
•    Conflict in Africa (Complexity and Convergence) and Changing Nature of Conflict
•    Connection between psychological well-being, leadership and conflict

Following the training program The Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum, where participants engage high-level officials to further deliberate on the issues, took place. In attendance were the ministers of International Relations and Defense - Dr. Pandor and Ms. Mapisa-Nqakula, as well the AU special envoy on women, peace and security and other high-level participants all engaged in the women, peace and security agenda.  
Peace, security and women’s rights are deeply interlinked issues. Just as a series of moving components in an engine moves a car forward, we cannot move forward on these issues by isolating the one from the other. These are societal issues requiring a holistic approach. Norway has learnt from experience that we need to recruit from the whole population, both men and women, if we are to achieve the best results. The active participation of women in negotiations and meditation is not only about women’s rights. It is about building sustainable and peaceful communities for both women and men - for everyone.
Photo: Mr. Bjørnestad addressing the Gertrude Shope Peace Meditation Network (Dirco)

In October, South Africa will chair the UN Security Council and the annual debates on women, peace and security. It is hard to think of a country better suited than South Africa to preside over this debate. Norway commends South Africa’s leadership on these issues. The 50/50 gender balance in cabinet and the pending adoption of a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan bear testament to South Africa’s serious commitment to gender issues.

There is a long-standing tradition promoting women’s rights in Norway’s foreign and domestic policy. Norway’s efforts for women’s participation and influence on peace and security work began before resolution 1325 was adopted in 2000. Norway stands for election to the Security Council for the 2021-2022 period. If elected, safeguarding the continued implementation of resolution 1325 and women’s rights across the world will of course be a top priority in Norway’s work on the UNSC.

The involvement of women in meditation, and indeed all other peace processes cannot be overemphasized. To achieve our goals coordination and cooperation is crucial. Norway, working alongside South Africa, will continue to promote cooperation on women peace and security at local and regional levels as well as in multilateral organisations. Today our cooperation on conflict resolution is evident across a wide range of issues, and the joint training program is but one example of this common endeavour.

Embassy of Norway in South Africa




February/March 2020








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