Promoting inclusive peace, security and development in the Sahel

The role of women and communities in the media, dialogue initiatives and the security sector in Central Mali and beyond

Given the structural inequalities and increasing insecurity plaguing the Sahel, rural populations are the most affected by the lack of development and services. Local communities, particularly women and girls, face specific challenges such as lack of basic social services and limited access to water and food. This is particularly true in central Mali. Stabilising the Sahel has become a priority of the EU’s cooperation. The European Consensus on Development points to the need to ensure that social objectives are fully integrated with security and development objectives. This session will highlight the promotion of community dialogue, gender equality and inclusiveness through dialogue. Trust-building measures can help empower local populations and strengthen their resilience to conflict.
The session will be held in French. 
With the support of the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 

Key points

  • Stabilising the Sahel has become a priority of the EU’s cooperation. This entails resolving violent conflicts, while improving social services and access to food and water.

  • Trust-building measures can help empower local populations and strengthen their resilience to conflict.

  • In conflict-torn Niger, women are playing a vital part in building trust between the security forces and civil society. Recruitment of more women into the military could provide a boost.

  • Access to information via the media is key to promoting peace, but only if coverage of the various parties to the conflict is accurate and balanced.

Synopsis

The situation in the Sahel, and more particularly Central Mali, is highly complex. It involves a range of militias, Jihadists and self-defence groups. Community conflicts, notably over scarce resources, are also an important issue. In some areas, the State and its security forces are no longer in control. The prevailing insecurity has hit social service provision and led to the widespread closure of schools. The immediate need is to halt the violence and disarm the various groups. Reconciliation must then follow, together with the return of the State. This will require a change in governance, away from the previous top-down approach. One task for the authorities will be to regulate access to natural resources. But they will first have to gain more credibility among the population. So access to resources must be seen to be fair. Women have been playing a major part in promoting peace. Often particularly keen to end conflict, they can wield considerable influence in their communities. Notably, they have been active in building trust between the military and civil society. The security forces have now designated focal points to improve contacts with civil society organisations. Recruitment of more women into the security forces would improve this process. Women would be more willing to share useful information, and to report rape and other abuses, if they knew that the forces had female personnel. One issue here is the low representation of women (8.8 % overall) at the various levels of political life, despite a commitment to gender equality in the Malian constitution. Through its instrument for contributing to stability and peace, the EU is also promoting contacts between communities and the security forces. It is emphasising action in the region’s trans border areas, given their role in people trafficking and militia movements. Practical EU support ranges from safeguarding airports to providing vehicles for the security forces.

Insight

Given the urgency of the situation in Mali, the challenge now is to rapidly stabilise the country, but without losing sight of its longer-term development needs.

Organised by

Speakers

Moderator
Nona Deprez
Head of Unit
European Commission - Service for Foreign Policy Instrument
Nene Konate
Executive Director
Malian Institute of Action Research for Peace
Julien Bouzon
Team Leader - Governance and Economics
EU Delegation To Mali
Mouhamadou Toure
Studio Tamani
Jean-Herve Jezequel
Project Director
International Crisis Group