Democracy That Delivers
Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security in the Greater Horn of Africa

Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security in the Greater Horn of Africa


Project Basic Information:



The Greater Horn of Africa which comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, is one of the hottest conflict zones in the world. Measured over time, the extent of violent conflict in the Horn of Africa is greater than in any other African region and has occurred at every level – within and between states, at the centre and in the periphery – with disproportionate effects on the lives of women.

Often as targets of extreme forms of violence, women in the Horn of Africa experience the full impact of violent conflict in the region as civilians and combatants, as well as the additional gender-based crimes of sexual abuse and being used as war weapons, but they still remain on the margins of conflict and post conflict decision-making processes that have fundamental gender dimensions and implications.

In addition, priority is rarely given to developing women’s individual and collective capacity to address these conflicts and to build stable, peaceful, and democratic institutions even though they continue to demonstrate their ability, both individually and collectively, to resolve conflicts on a local level as mediators. Women represent a crucial resource for peace and stability, therefore issues of peace building cannot be separated from those of women´s politcal and economic empowerment and sustainable development.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted in 2000 for the empowerment of women as peace builders in conflict and post conflict settings, yet most of its commitments have not been implemented.





Project Summary


In order to redress the institutional and political constraints which prevent women from participating in peace and security governance mechanisims, in 2009 Club de Madrid launched the Women´s Leadership for Peace and Security in the Greater Horn of Africa Project, in partnership with the  Institute of Security Studies (ISS), Women´s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WCCIE) & Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA).

The principle objective of this regional project is to maximise the participation and contribution of women in national and regional peace and security decision-making and political dialogue in the Greater Horn of Africa, specifically in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Central, Puntland and Somaliland (Somalia), Sudan, South Sudan & Uganda. The project has also focused on women in the Andean region (Bolivia and Colombia). Combining high-level and grassroots political expertise to provide knowledge, capacity building and strategic leadership advice, the project works to strengthen women´s leadership for peace and security whilst also supporting women´s empowerment to improve human rights in the Horn of Africa. Using United Nations Security Resolutions 1325 and 1820 as leverage, Club de Madrid Members have joined with local partners in order to build strategies to remove the barries that continue to prevent women´s full participation in all levels of policy making, in conflict and post conflict situations.

The two essential premises underlying the project are.

  • That decisions about local security problems should be made, as much as possible, by people who have on the ground knowledge and who are close to the issues, for example, by Somali women leaders with first hand experience of the causes and extreme effects of the evolving secuirty situation. The knowledge that emerges from this experience is crucial to the effeciency of the internationally assisted formulation process of a security blueprint for Somalia and subsequent allocation of resources.
  • That a large group of diverse individuals will deliver better forecasts and make more intelligent decisions by pooling their experience and shared knowledge.


36 months (2009-2012)




The overall objective is to maximise the participation and contribution of women in national and regional peace and security decision-making and political dialogue in the Greater Horn of Africa.

Specific objectives:

  • Learning security fluency: building women’s knowledge of and capacity to address peace and security issues, and;
  • Securing a seat at the decision-making table: advancing women’s participation in and influence on security policy and practice.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Strengthen relationships between the coalition of women leaders in the Greater Horn of Africa, national governments, regional and international bodies including Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) and other diplomatic strategic partners
  • Create an enabling environment: institutionalization of policy changes ranging from legal reform protecting women´s rights, gender budgeting and to security sector reforms
  • Increase the knowledge and political skill of targeted groups to effect change
  • Enhance mediation support functions played by women
  • Strengthen women´s networking, cohesion and organizational capacity for impacting on peace and security policies and practices




Target Groups

The main target group of the Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security is the G40 Group of Women Leaders.

The group is composed of 40 women from diverse professions including teachers, humanitarian workers, lawyers, grassroots peace activists, researchers, political scientists, business professionals, historians, social workers, human rights activists and journalists from across the Greater Horn of Africa. Building on this expansive network which comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Central, Puntland and Somaliland (Somalia), Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, the G40 provides the perfect platform to advance new and inclusive visions of gender-responsive mediation and geopolitical decision-making, from grassroots upwards.

 Since its inception in 2009, the G40´s achievements include:

  • Engaging in public awareness activities for 2010 Sudanese elections
  • Consulting with the Somali draft Constitution Committee;
  • Mainstreaming UNSCR 1325 at Northern Uganda Peace Recovery and Development Forum
  • Helping to organize awareness raising programs for the 2010 Somaliland electoral process
  • Engaging with high level officials in Djibouti;
  • Participating at local and national electoral processes as candidates.

 The G40 is now positioning itself to act as an advisory body at regional and international level, channelling the voices of women from the Greater Horn of Africa to bring about maximum impact on current peace and development processes across the region.

 The secondary target group includes top leadership at the country level, current Presidents and Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians and national gender bureau and defence officials in the six countries.




Project Partners

Institute of Security Studies (ISS) is an established think tank working in the area of African human security that seeks to mainstream human security perspectives into public policy and to influence decision makers within Africa and beyond. The objective of the Institute is to add critical balance and objectivitiy by providing timely, empriical research and contextual analysis of relevant human security issues to policy makers, area specialists, advocacy groups and the media. The ISS works towards a stable, peaceful Africa characterised by sustainable development, human rights, the rule of law, democracy, collaborative security and gender mainstreaming.



Isis Women´s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) is an international organisation which promotes justice and empowerment of women through documenting violations of women´s rights and facilitating the exchange of information and skills to strengthen women´s capacities, potential and visibilty. Isis-WICCE utlizes different creative strategies to generate and share information and knowledge which enables women to enhance their leadership potential in order to participate in decision-making process from grassroots to the global stage.




Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) is a network of civil society organizations in the Horn of Africa that advocates for social change and gender equality for men and women in the region, working specifically on: eliminating violence against women and girls, promoting human rights, peace building and conflict transformation, enhancing women´s leadership and political participation and dissemination of knowledget. SIHA carries out special programs supporting women activists and organizations in the Horn; it regularly evaluates and develops strategies to promote the principles and practises of gender equaltiy and women´s rights.




Project Associates

Africa Union Commission (AUC)

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

African Development Bank (AFDB)

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

UN Women


Country Specific Associates


  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
  • Bender Djedid Community Organization




  • Office of the Prime Minister
  • Presidential Affairs Committee

South Sudan






Club de Madrid
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