South Africa

South Africa’s first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will be implemented for the period 2020-2025. 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.”

The NAP locates itself within the context of domestic, continental, regional (Southern Africa) and international frameworks. WPS resolutions, CEDAW, SDGs. AU continental resoluts framework. It critiques and identifies gaps in existing frameworks, providing the base rationale for the adoption of the NAP. It also has an extensive situational analysis (pg. 24) of the current context in South Africa on different issues related to Women, Peace and Security, including women’s representation in government and economy, women poverty and hunger, women and human rights, and women and violence. In light of this, the NAP has activities both at the domestic and international levels.

There is also a section on WPS structures and practices, identifying South Africa’s role in regional and international peace and security. The NAP states that South Africa has identified “a need to rebuild the country’s capacity to engage in peace-making and to reconstitute a women’s peacebuilding movement that is able to provide support and capacity, and respond appropriately to unfolding events on the Continent,” including in the area of conflict prevention.

South Africa recently served as an elected member of the UN Security Council for 2019-2020. 

CEDAW Ratification


Global Gender Gap Index 2020

17 out of 153

Arms Trade Treaty Ratification


Military expenditure (2019)

$3.15 billion

Explore South Africa's National Action Plan

  • Actors
  • Timeframe
  • Objectives
  • Actions/Activities
  • Indicators
  • M&E
  • Budget
  • Disarmament

South Africa began the process of developing its NAP in 2009. For transparency and context, the NAP provides details on how the process stalled and then was revived in 2011, 2015, and in 2018 to finalize it. On page 59 there is a timeline that shows the many steps taken towards the NAP from 2009 to the present day.

The three departments that led the process of the NAP are the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. There is a National Steering Committee, formed by government and CSO representatives, that facilitated the consultations in the development process. There is a proposed governance model (pg 84), and the NAP also contains an acknowledgements section that acknowledges the different stakeholders who contributed. There were provincial consultations and a national consultative workshop, and a Drafting Team was formed. There were further consultations on the zero draft in 2019.

Civil society in South Africa long advocated for a NAP and also was instrumental in the process of reviving the 2020-2025 NAP’s development. They formed a steering group to collate the inputs of different stakeholders to the process, and engaged in the multi-stakeholder consultative meeting. On page 43, there is a list of points that emerged from civil society dialogues on WPS, which were incorporated into the NAP. 

The NAP states that implementation will be coordinated by the three ministries above,as well as other important departments identified that include police, corrections, DPME, and the presidential policy unit. Civil society and other representatives will also serve on this committee, as will the National Focal Point on WPS. 

Each year, a National Policy Forum with representatives from government, civil society, academia, private sector and development partners will meet and evaluate progress towards the NAP’s stated objectives.

The implementation period for the South African National Action Plan is 2020-2025.

The main principle underpinning the NAP is the link between state security and human security, as well as the idea that peace and security for women “must be accompanied by larger transformative processes, behavioural change, and peace and security for the society at large”. It is anchored on the four main WPS pillars of protection, participation, prevention, and relief and recovery. Key terms are identified in the NAP to provide a basis for common understanding of terminology. 

There are several main objectives:

  • To promote, protect and respect an inclusive, safe and peaceful society by operationalising the WPS Agenda in South Africa;
  • To implement, evaluate and report on agreed upon WPS frameworks at international, continental and regional levels;
  • To ensure the full and meaningful participation of women in peace and security processes, structures and institutions at all levels;
  • To establish and implement effective conflict management institutions, systems and processes;
  • To prevent violence against women, girls and gender non-conforming persons and protect them in all situations;
  • To position and promote South Africa as a credible international leader on issues related to WPS;
  • To ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to, and the utilisation of best practices towards information and knowledge management for WPS.

Within the four WPS pillars, the National Action Plan lists seven priority areas and 21 specific strategic objectives. 

Under Pillar 1 on Participation, there are two priorities: To develop, implement and assess gender-sensitive laws, policies and strategies; and to Ensure meaningful participation of women in peace processes, structures and institutions. Under Pillar 1 Priority 1, there are two objectives: Ensure effective participation of civil society; and Enhance accountability for the implementation of the WPS NAP.

The priorities under the other pillars are as follows:

Prevention: Create an inclusive, peaceful and safe society; Prevention measures for safer societies; Empowering women and comprehending their needs.

Protection: Enhance the protection of women, girls and gender non-conforming persons from all forms of abuse, violence and discrimination.

Relief and Recovery: The provision of safe spaces of refuge for victims of humanitarian crises.

Under each of these priorities, there are multiple activities, expected outcomes, indicators and means of verification, time frame, and key actors. Some examples of activities include: 

  • Review the foreign policy and ensure it is gender-sensitive
  • Establish a National Policy Forum on WPS from the three spheres of government, civil society and the private sector that feeds into the security cluster
  • Strengthen the relevant parliamentary oversight committees to ensure the implementation of WPS
  • Provide family support and family planning educational campaigns and programmes
  • Provide trauma-informed counselling at family clinics
  • Develop awareness programmes and concrete measures to address the violent expressions of Homophobia
  • Develop awareness programmes and concrete measures to prevent xenophobia

Under each of the activities there are indicators listed. For example, under Strategic Objective 1.2.2 Women's representation and participation in national peace and security structures, there is an indicator “Peace tables held on a biennial basis.” Each indicator corresponds to a timeframe, relevant actors, and expected outcomes. 

The full matrix of priorities, activities, and indicators can be found starting on page 64.

The DPME will support the development of a full monitoring and evaluation plan, which will facilitate the tracking of progress towards implementation. The NAP states that all stakeholders will be expected to report on their work towards NAP implementation. To better support this, the NAP aligns with priorities that were outlined in the 2019 State of the Nation Address, and indicators align with the AU continental results framework. Gender activities will be viewed not as new work but are meant to be mainstreamed in existing systems and initiatives.

The NAP contains a budget, and there will be comprehensive costing in alignment with the Gender-Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Auditing framework. The total estimated budget for the NAP will be 560,000,000 ZAR. The NAP acknowledges that the South African economy is not doing well so funding is difficult, but states that South Africa will be proactively looking to channel resources.

There is one activity on disarmament in the NAP, “Ensure more women are trained in gender and disarmament and participate in international forums on the topic”. This is under Strategic Objective 1.2.1, Women's representation and participation at international and continental peace and security structures and processes.

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