Baseline Study on the Implementation of the South African National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security
South Africa adopted its National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in August 2020 and launched it in March 2021. Unfortunately, in 2020 and 2021 the Covid-19 pandemic overshadowed all other activities. The NAP was launched through a Zoom meeting and implementation of the specific targets outlined in the plan only began in earnest in 2022. However, South Africa has always championed WPS; therefore, even before the adoption of the NAP, there was an emphasis on promoting women’s participation in peace and security structures and processes and on preventing gender-based violence. This baseline study provides an initial overview of WPS in the country and in particular the status of the implementation of the NAP on WPS. It can be used to inform future monitoring and evaluation of the NAP and give direction to the areas which require attention.
The NAP is the product of years of commitment by government and civil society to ensure its development. It requires the same kind of commitment to ensure its implementation. The WPS NAP Steering Committee, co-chaired by DIRCO, the DODMV and the DWYPD, and with representation of the security cluster and civil society, has demonstrated the necessary leadership to get the NAP adopted and remains charged with the responsibility of ensuring its implementation. The various departments and civil society have been active, both in their own spheres and collaboratively, in moving the agenda forward. This illustrates that collaboration between government, civil society and the international community enables implementation of strategic plans.
The mission of the NAP is ‘to create a safer and peaceful South Africa, Africa and world for women, girls, and gender non-conforming persons; enable meaningful participation for women in peace processes; and prioritise their needs, experiences and agency in all conflict and non-conflict contexts’. It has four pillars – participation, prevention, protection, and relief and recovery – and within these pillars a set of priority areas and aligned objectives and activities. Of the activities identified in the NAP, this baseline evaluated 79 key activities that need to be implemented, and coded them either as red (not accomplished) – 29 activities (37%); yellow (partially accomplished) – 27 activities (34%); green (achieved) – 20 activities (25%); or white (unable to assess) – 3 activities (4%). The data were collated via primary and secondary sources: interviews; annual reports, documents, internet sources and literature; and participation in Steering Committee reviews on WPS implementation. On the whole, South Africa does well in terms of the legal and policy frameworks that are in place for preventing violence against women and on representation in government, including in the security sector, where it has representation of 37% women in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) – however, only 27% are combat positions – and 39% representation for women in the police. However, the new and revised policy frameworks and structures that are called for in the NAP are not in place. The country can do much better on reporting on WPS implementation; deploying women peacekeepers, mediators, special envoys and peacebuilders; reducing the levels of violence in the society; and providing shelter and support for those in need of humanitarian interventions.
South Africa is halfway through the number of years allocated for it to implement the activities in the NAP (2020–2025) and must therefore make a more concerted effort to do so. In addition, government, intergovernmental organisations and the international community should ensure that there are resources available to implement the NAP. The necessary structures and oversight mechanisms should also be in place to ensure coordination, documentation, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
On the whole, substantive progress was made in 2022, especially in relation to popularising the South African NAP on WPS, acknowledging the role played by young women peacebuilders and by co-hosting international events on WPS.