African Women – a Force for Peace

Queens of Africa” is a line of black dolls inspired by the three largest tribes in Nigeria. They wear the wonderful traditional dresses of the three queens. And I love the song in the promotional video portraying the three queens—one of them is the Queen of Peace.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: 2011 Nobel Peace Nobel Prize laureate  Source: Wikipedia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: 2011 Nobel Peace Nobel Prize laureate
Source: Wikipedia
Lack of peace is one of the main obstacles for doing business in Africa , and obviously but most importantly, lack of peace and insecurity destroys many lives both physically and morally (see related post here). Most armed conflicts currently taking place are in Africa. How many do you think there are?

The answer is 13 out of 35 (37%) of the armed conflicts around the world are in Africa. Social tensions need to be considered as well (37 in Africa out of 95 in total, or 39%). Bear in mind that these figures include all of Africa.  They are taken from the latest Barometer on Conflicts and Peace building that the Escola de Cultura de Pau (The School for a Culture of Peace) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona publishes quarterly.

Out of the 13 armed conflicts, eight are taking place in sub-Saharan Africa and none is in Southern Africa (the areas on which I focus). At a glance:

Country Intensity* Trend Beginning
CAR 3 = 2006
Central Africa** 1 = 1986
DRC (East) 3 1998
DRC (East – ADF) 1 n.a.
Ethiopia 1 = 2007
Mali 2 2012
Nigeria 3 2011
Somalia 3 1988

* Range: 1 = low intensity to 3 = high intensity
** This conflict extends across multiple countries in Central Africa

Peaceful countries (22 out of 45) with neither armed conflict nor social tensions are:

We need to make peace happen. “Make it happen” is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (celebrated on March 8). With chapters in DRC and Nigeria, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILFP) is an association dedicated to making peace happen. During its 100-year existence, WILFP has “brought together women from around the world who are united in working for peace by non-violent means and promoting political, economic and social justice for all.” (See the WILFP Nigeria report and the DRC Chapter)

African women are a powerful driving force. Just take Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as an example. President of Liberia, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. Why? “Their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

What if women were allowed to participate more actively in peace-building processes?  As the “Queens of Africa’s” song says: “Water is soft but it can break a rock.”

2 thoughts on “African Women – a Force for Peace

    1. Indeed, Tsepo. And it’s a pitty that there aren’t more women in leadership positions at all levels. There’s a popular song in my country that says something like “countries and nations would be like oil pools if women were in command.”

Comments are closed.