Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide and Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein presented the government's new strategy for the Sahel virtually on the 23rd of June. Jenny Lorentzen (PRIO/ Lund University), Morten Bøås (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs), Dagfinn Høybråten (Norwegian Church Aid) and Jan Egeland (Norwegian Refugee Council) commented on the strategy, followed by a short panel debate.

In her intervention Lorentzen focused on the role of women in political processes and the women, peace and security agenda in the Sahel region. Lorentzen particularly highlighted the current political situation in the region after three military coups and a coup attempt in less than a year. The military further taking over positions of power, benefits neither women or other marginalised groups in society Lorentzen claimed.

Lorentzen also emphasised that after the last two coups in Mali there are currently fewer women ministers than under the previous civilian government, and that she hopes “Norway will work to strengthen women's participation in the transition to civilian government and in the upcoming elections, and hold the government accountable so that the law passed in 2015 on 30% female representation is respected.

Furthermore, Lorentzen stressed how Norway could support women in the Malian peace process, “In Mali, we have a network of women's organizations that have been engaged in the peace process since the beginning. But these are not necessarily the same women who now sit on the agreement monitoring committee, and they represent somewhat different interests. In 2018, a women-led parallel forum was established to monitor the peace process. This forum is still not operational. Support for the launch of this forum could be one way for Norway to contribute to the peace process becoming more inclusive.”

Lorentzen is a Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Political Science at Lund University, and Senior Researcher at PRIO. Lorentzen has recently successfully defended her dissertation for the degree dr.philos: "Normative Encounters between the 'Global' and the 'Local': Women, Peace and Security in Mali and Rwanda".

You can watch the launch of the new Norwegian Sahel strategy in Norwegian here.