From 1977 to 1992, Mozambique was embroiled in a civil war that left around one million citizens killed or starved, about five million more displaced and much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed. In 2013, conflict broke out again—and in 2016, a journalist blocked from visiting a mass grave set up during the war discovered a pile of bodies nearby, revealing the degree to which the nation is still facing intrastate conflict that leaves civilians bearing the brunt of the consequences. The next year, Human Rights Watch shined a light on the ways in which the government had failed to address the human rights abuses perpetrated by the state.
With the help of the governments of Iceland and Norway and UN Women, the government of Mozambique has now drawn up a plan to reverse course—launching a five-year National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The Gender, Children and Social Welfare Minister Cidalia Chaque announced the new plan, which will be implemented from 2018 to 2022, in June in the capital of Maputo.
The new action plan is connected to the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security Agenda, which is recognized internationally and has been implemented in countries including Libya, Yemen and Colombia. Its landmark document, Resolution 1325, has provided a political framework for the international community to examine and remedy the disproportionate effects that armed conflict has on women—and marked the first time that the Security Council had addressed the unique impact of armed conflict on women; the value of women’s contributions to prevention, resolution and peace processes; and the importance of women’s full and equal participation in peace and security. Seven additional resolutions in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda have acknowledged the use of sexual violence as a tactic in armed conflict and the need for metrics and implementation strategies.
“Armed conflicts have devastating consequences in various countries, and women and girls are the main victims. Hence their involvement in peace negotiations is indispensable,” Minister Chaque said, adding that the plan will address women’s participation in “conflict management and resolution, assistance for displaced and refugee women, the prevention of violence and sexual abuse and post-conflict reconstruction.” New developments for Mozambique under the action plan also include the creation of a new law against domestic violence and the signing of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the African Union’s (AU) protocol on women’s rights—all important parts of the country’s efforts to sustain peace.