At the Kofi Annan Foundation, we believe in a world that is equal, peaceful and where everyone’s voice counts. Through our work for peace, democracy, and development, we have seen first-hand the different realities of people based on their gender, age and socioeconomic background.
Only 4% of signatories to peace agreements are women, and only 9% of negotiation team members were women in 2012*. Young people make up only 2.2% of parliamentarians, and less than 1% of these are young women**. Through our recent research, we have identified that recruitment by violent extremist groups takes a gendered approach, using narratives of empowerment for women, and traditional masculine narratives for men.
Based on these observations, the Kofi Annan Foundation has signed the Young Women B+25 Manifesto by the Nala Feminist Collective.
The manifesto demands intergenerational co-leadership, an end to gender discrimination, and a gendered approach to silencing guns, among others. We believe that supporting regional initiatives like this, aimed at making young African women’s voices heard, will create a movement that is necessary and can no longer be ignored.
Much effort has been made to view the world through a gendered lens, but intersecting factors are often disregarded. The specific challenges faced by young women in accessing decision-making spaces, the challenges women in rural areas face in participating in peace processes, and the influence young women can have on preventing violent extremism. We have found that through adopting an intersectional approach, we can move away from narrow, gendered assumptions and stereotypes, such as treating women only as victims of conflict and men as the “risk-factors”. Instead, we need to acknowledge the multiple roles they play in conflict through their agency and influence as peace mediators, humanitarian responders, as well as combatants in different societies and communities.
In addition to supporting and signing the manifesto, the Kofi Annan Foundation has undertaken the following actions:
1. Our Executive Director, Corinne Momal-Vanian, has joined the International Gender Champions (IGC). The IGC is a network of global leaders for gender equality, with the commitment to make more visible the different needs and experiences of marginalized and young women in peace, reconciliation, political participation and violent extremism. By making these issues more visible, we contribute to shedding light on and ultimately ending gender discrimination.
2. Our youth-led initiative, Extremely Together, actively works to include young women in peacebuilding by conducting research into the gender dimension of recruitment by violent extremist groups, supporting the participation of young women in our campaigns, and highlighting the importance of their participation through articles and videos. We can only silence the guns together.
3. We have launched the Kofi Annan Changemakers, an initiative supporting young changemakers from the Philippines to Afghanistan, Nigeria and Colombia on their journey to making a positive impact on the world. The initiative will pair them with experienced mentors, provide the space for an intergenerational dialogue with high-level participants and experts, and give a seed grant to further their work. Through this initiative, we hope to support and increase intergenerational co-leadership to help solve major issues, including gender inequality.
Will you join us in ensuring an equitable, peaceful and open world for all?
You can support the inclusion of women and youth by signing the Nala Feminist Collective Manifesto here.
About Nala Feminist Collective
Nala Feminist Collective is a Pan-African group of feminists with a mission to foster, enable and mobilize young women from Africa and Diaspora, while bridging the gap between policy and implementation, intergovernmental and grassroots as well as generational spaces. The council consists of 17 women leaders under the age of 40. Council members are experts in various fields including academia, social movements, civil society, philanthropy, public administration, private-sector and multilateral institutions. The group advocates for Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto and the implementation of the commitments towards the Decade of Action and the Africa We Want.