Women’s Situation Room launched in Ghana to help ensure peaceful elections
22 November 2016, Accra, Ghana
On 17 November 2016, the Women’s Situation Room Ghana was launched in Accra. The Women’s Situation Room is set up to help ensure a peaceful election process as Ghana heads to the polls on 7 December. UN Resident Coordinator Christine Evans-Klock; Electoral Commission Chair Charlotte Osei; Yvette Chesson-Wureh, Initiator of the Women’s Situation Room; Obaapa Adwoa Ankyaa, Nkosoohemaa of Afigya-Kwabre District; Heather Cameron, High Commissioner for Canada to the Republic of Ghana; and representatives from the Government of Norway, the National Peace Council, and Civil Society groups applauded the initiative.
Representatives from political parties, the media, the Electoral Commission (EC), security agencies, the judiciary, CSOs, and development partners attended the event.
The goal of the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) is to eliminate obstacles to women’s participation in electoral processes, especially violence against women in all its forms, which has been identified as a major obstacle to women’s involvement in political affairs.
The first WSR was established in 2011 in Liberia, and has since been replicated in many other countries across Africa – in Senegal and Sierra Leone in 2012, Kenya in 2013, Mali in 2013, Guinea Bissau in 2014, Nigeria in 2015, and Uganda on 2016.
It has proved to be a powerful peacebuilding platform that rallies women, youth, media, stakeholders, professionals, religious and traditional personalities and institutions to ensure a transparent and peaceful electoral process.
In a video message, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Champion of the WSR, underlined her support for the women in Ghana. She said that Ghana can learn from the lessons from other countries, and that the Ghana experience will be used in future WSR.
Yvette Chesson-Wureh, Initiator of the Women’s Situation Room and Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre, gave insights into the successes of the Liberia WSR, underlined the importance to involve the youth, and said the WSR allows ordinary women to sustain peace.
In her keynote address Obaapa Adwoa Ankyaa, Nkosoohemaa of Afigya-Kwabre District, underlined that the WSR is being implemented across all regions of Ghana in order to “spread the message across the country.” WSR National Coordinator Adwoa Pokua Bame therefore delivered her powerful message to the audience in Twi and Ewe. “Peace is in our hands,” was the key message of Charlotte Osei, Chair of the Electoral Commission.
“In recognition of the vital role women play as proven agents of change in achieving and sustaining peace, the UN Security Council in 2000 passed the historic resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It calls for women to participate in peacebuilding and in ensuring peaceful elections. By choosing to use the Women’s Situation Room mechanism to promote peaceful elections, Ghanaian women are fulfilling one of the aspirations of this UN Security Council Resolution,” said UN Resident Coordinator Christine Evans-Klock.
She gave examples of the UN’s commitment to gender equality and women empowerment across all its actions and noted that gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is the fifth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa is the focus of the Africa Human Development Report 2016, recently launched by UNDP. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign from 25 November, International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
The Women’s Situation Room in Ghana is supported by the Governments of Norway and Canada, UN Women, the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, and UNDP.