For large parts of the population in West Africa, political participation and contribution to public circles is impaired by a number of challenges. Women and young people, in particular, might face cultural, economic or political obstacles when attempting to make their voices heard.
In the framework of a training project covering Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Alert has trained a number of facilitators who conduct workshops for groups of women and young people. These workshops empower traditionally excluded groups and assist them in planning activities which will help them to contribute meaningfully to the political debates in their respective contexts.
This publication is a toolkit, a resource pack for facilitators from Liberia. Sierra Leone and Guinea. Published in French and English, it provides a number of exercises which can be used to foster discussions and reflections around analysis, visioning, skills-building and planning to enhance the political participation of women and youth.
International Alert has worked in West Africa for many years, and has a long association with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the original member countries of the Mano River Union (MRU)1. Since 2007 much of its focus in the region has been on gender issues in peacebuilding. International Alert’s work uses UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security as a way of addressing women’s priorities in peacebuilding.
This briefing note seeks to contribute to the knowledge on Resolution 1325, building on International Alert’s work in the MRU region during the last few years. The first section briefly discusses the need to adjust the approach to implementing Resolution 1325 in challenging contexts such as post-conflict Sierra Leone and Liberia and conflict-prone Guinea. Based on a brief discussion of salient issues and thematic priorities across the three countries, the subsequent section sketches the contours of a comprehensive agenda for implementing Resolution 1325 in the MRU region. The three components of this agenda are addressing women's security needs, enhancing their political participation, and implementing gender equality legislation and policies. The briefing note ends with the following four broad recommendations to sustain and enhance work on Resolution 1325 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone:
1. Working (better) with what exists: Engage custodians of the customary justice system.
2. Address sexual and gender-based violence: Mobilise communities through change agents.
3. Economics matters: Address the economic dimension of gender, peace and security.
4. From plans to action: Make smart investments in civil society.
Sexual and gender-based violence in the MRU
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been one of the major legacies of the 14-year (1989-2003) regional conflict in the Mano River Union (MRU). In response, in 2008 International Alert and its partners designed an initiative targeting war-affected communities in nine border areas of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This Human Security in the MRU project has challenged knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning SGBV in order to reduce perpetration and the stigmatisation of survivors, and provided information, counselling and advocacy in order to guide men and women through prevention and redress actions. This report aims to capture the experiences of the project in the context of work in three interlinked but quite specific country contexts. It looks at the extent of SGBV and domestic violence as experienced in the target communities, details the challenges and best practices of project staff in their attempts to raise awareness and change attitudes and practices, and analyses the particular challenges of providing security and accessing justice (statutory or customary) in the various target communities. It concludes with a series of recommendations for the improved provision of security and justice for women, girls and other vulnerable groups within the MRU.
Civil society and government representatives from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Burundi recently gathered in Freetown for training on developing gender-sensitive indicators for the consolidation of peacebuilding programmes. Participants also attended a roundtable discussion on the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
In just two years’ time, elections in Sierra Leone will mark a decade since the end of the bloody civil war. Since the war was officially declared over, there have been some notable achievements. The country’s first peaceful and democratic handover of power from one political party to another took place in 2007. Free health care for all pregnant and breastfeeding women has been introduced to combat Sierra Leone’s alarming maternal mortality rate.
The West Africa Programme at International Alert (IA) has been actively working with partners from the region for many years in seeking to transform conflicts in the area through projects that contribute to bringing about social justice and peace. We are very much aware that other actors have also played a role in conflict transformation in the region. This overview is designed to provide an insight into the history of IA’s work there, particularly since the inception of the West Africa Programme in 1998.
This is an overview of International Alert's work in West Africa.
The role of international companies in post-conflict reconstruction is an essential complement to the work of international aid agencies. However, if policy-makers are to secure the maximum benefits from private investment, they need to understand how different companies and sectors view opportunity and risk, and find ways to assess their overall impact in post-conflict settings.
In development circles, the debate about the role of business in conflict-affected regions has tended to focus on petroleum and mining. This paper begins with a review of the extractive industries, but then broadens the discussion to discuss three other sectors: mobile phones, construction and commercial banks. It cites examples from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Timor- Leste.
This report is prepared within the framework of the Diamonds for Development programme (D4D). The D4D directly targets the role that mineral resources have played in conflict and can play for development.
Based on a series of visits to working diamond mines, interviews with diggers, mine owners, traders, exporters, government officials and NGOs, the report describes the current state of the diamond industry in West Africa, providing both an overview of the sub-region and detailed analysis of each country. It identifies possible ways of using diamonds as a tool for development rather than a fuel for conflict, including how to deliver a larger part of the revenue from diamonds to the miners themselves and to the rural communities that host them, plus strategies for making artisanal mine owners more efficient and profitable and less financially dependent on the traders who buy their stones. It also suggests ways of improving cooperation and harmonising diamond policy at the regional and international level.
This conference was convened within the framework of the Diamonds for Development initiative (D4D), which focuses on the sustainable use of revenue from mineral resources for the purposes of development. It was organised by the Government of Liberia in partnership with UNDP Liberia and International Alert with the objective of identifying ways to ensure that the alluvial diamond sector contributes to sustainable peace and development in the Mano River Basin sub-region.
Report on the proceedings of the Diamonds for Development Sub-Regional Conference.
This publication makes the case that the local business community in conflict-affected countries can and should play a role in building peace. Linking up with other peacebuilding actors, and taking advantage of their own resources and skills, business communities should address socio-economic, security, political and reconciliation dimensions of peacebuilding. Section 1 is divided into 5 thematic chapters, and Section 2 contains 19 country case studies. Executive Summaries are also available in Spanish and French.
From July 4th-14th 2006, International Alert conducted a mapping of the incidence of GBV and the programmes that are being implemented to address it in Sierra Leone on behalf of Irish Aid. Historically, women have been discriminated against and are heavily under-represented in the traditionally male-dominated political and socio-economic decision-making structures of Sierra Leone.
Addressing gender-based violence, which has affected tens of thousands of women and children in Sierra Leone, is a critical element of building peace there. This briefing paper explores the issue, and identifies strategies to enhance prevention and response to gender-based violence in Sierra Leone.
This report outlines the findings and recommendations of a workshop with representatives from Burundian and Sierra Leonean civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment organised by International Alert on 25th to 29th February 2008. The aim of the five-day workshop was to exchange experiences, discuss commonchallenges and strengthen future collaboration in order to support the integration of genderrelated priorities into peacebuilding processes.
Women peacebuilders in various conflict-affected countries face very similar challenges as they attempt to integrate women’s interests in peacebuilding policy processes and civil society actors from different countries can potentially learn a lot from exchanging experiences with each other. This report outlines the findings and recommendations of a workshop with representatives from Burundian and Sierra Leonean civil society organisations working in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment organised by International Alert on 25th to 29th February 2008. The aim of the five-day workshop was to exchange experiences, discuss common challenges and strengthen future collaboration in order to support the integration of gender-related priorities into peacebuilding processes. Throughout the workshop, a number of key policy issues relevant to civil society actors in both countries were raised. A central concern across all issues was the challenge that civil society organisations face in attempting to integrate gender perspectives into peacebuilding policies, particularly security-related activities, and then effectively monitoring the implementation of these policies. The workshop resulted in a number of findings and recommendations that can be built on to ensure enhanced support for women’s organizations to monitor and advocate for the inclusion of gender perspectives in peacebuilding processes.