Who are we
This Female Leadership Program for Inclusive Security Governance in the Sahel is an initiative of the Danish Demining Group (DDG) in collaboration with the West African Network for Peacebuilding.
It attempts to respond to the absence of women around the decision-making table in the governance of the security sector in the Sahel countries. While the voice of civil society in security matters is generally weak in the Sahel countries, that of women and women’s organizations is even lower. This is true for women’s organizations operating at the national level – with a certain level of institutional presence in capitals -, it is all the more so for local women’s movements and organizations which remain largely invisible and inaudible from capitals and decision centers, although they are the closest to security challenges and community perceptions.
The argument often put forward to justify this exclusion is that female security expertise does not exist. When women are represented, this is often done symbolically or even in a role of figuration which makes substantial participation difficult. This marginalization of women results in biased decisions that are not very sensitive to the specific needs of women, but also of men, girls and boys.
Legal frameworks in the Security Sector Reform (SSR)
However, international, regional and national frameworks for Security Sector Reform (SSR) recognize the need for inclusive processes, which promote the active participation of all national forces, both men and women.
Importance of inclusive security governance
International experience in SSR shows that public policies that take into account the concerns and suggestions of women as much as those of men are more balanced, more effective and better able to meet the needs of the entire population, and not just a part. This is particularly the case in the security field, where security sector policies, decisions and practices benefit from being informed by the contributions of both women and men.
Challenges in the Sahel countries
The principle of inclusive and shared governance of security is theoretically acquired in the Sahel countries. However, translating these principles into reality remains a challenge which comes up against the reality of contexts marked by implicit and explicit gender biases which are strongly anchored. The result is a high inequality of access of women to public speech, to decision-making circles, and insufficient consideration of their contributions.
SOLUTION PROPOSED BY THE PLF
The PLF aims to stimulate the emergence of the next generation of Sahelian women from diverse backgrounds, whose voices can influence the adoption of adequate policies and practices to meet the security challenges facing both States and populations (men, women, girls and boys) from the region.
By creating a pool of regional female expertise and giving it the tools to make a substantial contribution to security issues, The PLF also seeks to amplify the voice of civil society to improve the democratic anchoring of RSS processes and the quality public policies that emerge from this, only to challenge exclusionary stereotypes to encourage more inclusive security governance; and to provide young generations with role models that can overcome traditional barriers to women’s participation in security matters.
The Women’s Leadership Program for Inclusive Security Governance in the Sahel: Strengthening the voice of women in civil society in matters of security through the establishment of a pool of female expertise in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.