SA Elections: WEMP driving women’s participation in democracy and peace processes


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The Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace (WEMP) is an initiative that aims to increase women’s participation in democracy and peace processes. Through this initiative, 300 Peace Monitors have been trained and are actively monitoring incidents of violence and disruption. The WEMP will establish Peace Rooms in five provinces: Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal. Each Peace Room will be headed by a Special Envoy.

Prof Chery Hendricks, the WEMP Executive Director said Special Envoys for the WEMP recognise the historic nature of these elections, in which they will come together as South Africans to express their democratic preferences at the polls.

She said elections can be a period of intensified conflict, as political parties and other actors vie for positions and power. It is in this context that the Special Envoys are committed to building a peace infrastructure for these elections and beyond.

In South Africa, there are roughly 27 million registered voters, of which 55% are women who have real and important power. Yet women are often missing from the negotiating tables and leadership of political processes.

“So, it is important for women to take up their leadership role in these elections, their leadership in our society, and their leadership to collectively build peace in our homes and communities. As Special Envoys, we will be taking action throughout the week of the elections to promote peace, build women’s participation, and respond to incidents of violence and conflict across the five provinces. Our approach is rooted in the new South African National Peace Charter which emerged from the National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace, and Security. The core pillars of this National Action Plan are: 1) Participation; 2) Prevention; 3) Protection; and 4) Relief and Recovery.

“At the heart of the Peace Charter is a commitment to nurturing trust, equality, equity, justice, healing, and reconciliation. It is this common commitment that South Africans strived towards in our journey to democracy, and to which we must recommit during the electoral period. We call for those in leadership – in communities, political parties, religious bodies, and civil society – to join us in ensuring peace during the elections. We call on those in leadership to demonstrate political maturity. We also want to build a peace movement through mobilising across society, young and old, in all our diversity, to build a culture of peace as an integral part of ensuring an inclusive and democratic society,” Prof Hendricks said.

WEMP is calling on all women in South Africa to take up their democratic right to vote; and to participate actively in their communities, political parties, and in institutions for peacebuilding.

“We have a collective responsibility, existing leaders and new leaders who will be voted into positions through these elections, to commit to the Peace Charter, to stand against violence, and to protect the integrity of the election and its results through adhering to the Electoral Code of Conduct,” WEMP said in a statement.