In Ghana’s Elections: WSR Plays Key Conflict Mitigation Role
... Liberian youth, others join observer mission as President Sirleaf visits the WSR
As Ghanaians went to elections on December 7, the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) Ghana has been taking several steps aimed at mitigating any potential violence before, during and after the electoral process in that country along with other in-country initiatives towards that objective. The Women’s Situation Room is a women-led peace building mechanism that embraces the youth to mitigate conflict before, during and after electoral process. The concept was first initiated in Liberia during the 2011 general and presidential elections in Liberia by the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. It has since been adopted as “best practice” by the Gender Is My Agenda Programme (GIMAP) at the African Union and embraced by the women of Africa, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf requested to Champion the replication across the continent. Already, it has been replicated in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda during elections in the respective countries under the slogan “Peace is in our hands”.
Ghana is the latest country on the continent to embrace the idea of the WSR. The Establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) and initiator of the concept, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh and her team have been rigorously providing technical support and facilitating its successful replication in that West African nation. Like other replications, the process in Ghana has focused particularly on women spearheading precautionary measures that will mitigate any potential conflict before, during and after the elections. It has involved the participation of all actors and stakeholders working together for peaceful elections. Amongst the several engagements which have taken place and will continued during the course of the elections period include, Engagement of Eminent Women, Inter-Party Women Dialogue, Tripartite Inter-Party Dialogue, Inter-Party Youth Dialogue, Media Trainings, etc. The WSR Ghana has also engaged other key actors of political parties, government, various youth groups as well as the marginalized and those neglected by society.
On November 17, hundreds of women marched for peace in the Northern Regional capital of Tamale as part of activities of the WSR, while the lightening of the Youth Peace Torch commenced on November 30 and was climaxed on December 4 at which time the youth were called upon to uphold the lighted Peace Torch to symbolize their endorsement to the peace campaign and also to pledge to play their roles in ensuring free, fair, and transparent and violence free elections in Ghana. The WSR Ghana has recruited young women to spearhead information gathering at the various flashpoints across Ghana. There are 120 WSR Ghana focal persons across Ghana covering all the identified hotspots in the country.
The Champion of the Women’s Situation Room, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday, December 1 visited with the Women’s Situation Room at the Labadi Beach Hotel. The former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki also visited the WSR. Ten youths from Liberia left the country on Sunday, November 4 to observe the Ghanaian elections and participate in activities of the Women’s Situation Room. They were joined by youth from Sierra Leone as they share their experiences and learn best practice on how to mitigate conflict during elections period. The delegation from Liberia comprised of youth from Nimba and Bong counties, a youth from West Point, a representative from commercial female motorcyclist known as “Pink Panthers”, a female journalist and some youth from ABIC youth program. The African Women Development Funds (AWDF) has financed this delegation, while UNDP-Ghana is financing the WSR activities in Ghana