Women in Casamance unite for peace

Ndeye Marie Diédhiou, is the coordinator of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance, southern Senegal. In addition to her 32 years’ experience as a teacher she is engaged in civic activities with a strong leaning towards gender issues.

Women in Casamance, southern Senegal, marching for peace © PFPC"The environment in which I live has unfortunately been marred by three decades of conflict. As is often the case elsewhere in the world, armed conflicts have a negative impact on the lives of women and children. It is this context that has shaped my early commitment to a movement of consolidation of peace in my region," says Diédhiou.

Today, the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance (PFPC) groups a large number of women's organizations working for the restoration of peace in the region. It has become an indispensable organization because of its composition (approximately 170 member associations) and its establishment in Casamance. Its purpose is simple: to bring together the energy, the skills and the expertise of each of its members in order to offer practical and relevant solutions to end the crisis in Casamance.

"We realized the need to join forces to impose the voices of women in the peace process. Several cultural groups in Casamance traditionally give women the power to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. They have the power and duty to intervene in domestic disputes, but also to intervene in case of armed conflict between communities or villages. In light of the abuses committed during this crisis, it is normal that we speak up and say "Enough of this war," adds Diédhiou.

The idea of ​​the platform came about when marking the 10th anniversary of UN resolution 1325 in Dakar. Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts; peace negotiations; consolidation of peace and peacekeeping; humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction; and stresses the importance of women’s equal participation in all efforts to sustain peace and security.

The platform’s activities include assistance to victims of armed conflict; the organization of meetings and dialogue with stakeholders; campaigns for petition signings demanding community involvement in peace efforts. The platform has also played an important role during the last presidential election in 2012, challenging the various candidates on their proposals for ending the crisis in Casamance.

"We are preparing large regional and national days of peace in Ziguinchor, Kolda, Sédhiou and Dakar. These days are aimed at enabling women of Casamance, but also elsewhere in Senegal, to make their voices heard and their desires to find peace known,” concludes Diédhiou.

Diédhiou’s initiative raises awareness of the need to involve women's movements in the resolution of the crisis in Casamance. This experiment is an example of the implementation of resolution 1325 in the sub-region that is supported by the Regional Office in West Africa of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

31 December 2012

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