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Women take ownership of Great Lakes peace efforts

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"Women's leadership matters and must be at the heart of the peace process in the DRC." Mary Robinson At the invitation of UN Special Envoy Mary Robinson, women from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region meet in Burundi to discuss their role in the peace process.

Since her appointment as UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa in March, Mary Robinson has been trying to ensure that civil society is at the heart of peace efforts in the region, after two decades of armed conflict that claimed 5 million lives and displaced 2 million people.

As part of this holistic approach to peace building, she is convening a Regional Conference on Women, Peace, Security and Development in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 9-11 July.

The meeting, the first of its kind, brings together 100 women from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda and other countries of the region to discuss how they can help achieve peace. The objective is to develop a road map for the full participation of women in the implementation and monitoring of the peace agreement signed in February by 11 heads of state in the region.

Labelled the “Framework of Hope” by Mary Robinson, the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC is considered a milestone in the efforts to bring about peace to the region.

“It is important that not only governments but also a wide cross-section of the population in each country, including women’s groups, know the details of this Framework of Hope,” Mary Robinson said. “It is they who will benefit if this Framework is implemented fully so they should be ready to hold their governments accountable for any failure to respond adequately.”

In a letter to leaders of the region welcoming the appointment of Mary Robinson as UN Special Envoy on behalf of The Elders, Kofi Annan emphasised in May that “ownership of the Framework by the people will only increase its chances of success in bringing stability and reconciliation to the region.”

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