Advancing women’s participation in peacebuilding: what are the next steps in implementation?

27 March, 2013

UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and the UN’s recent 7-point action plan on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding, provide a strong policy framework. To what extent has policy translated into concrete action?

 

Women in peacebuilding

Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 March 2013 (WP1191)

Policy makers and practitioners from around the world, including senior UN officials and representatives of regional organisations, met at Wilton Park to discuss what needs to be done to give practical effect to the UN Secretary-General’s seven-point action plan on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding and Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. The conference aimed to:

  • identify constraints and opportunities
  • consider lessons learned and build on best practice
  • make recommendations for effective implementation at international and national levels of the UN’s seven-point action plan.

The conference was organised in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Civil-Military Centre and UN Women. Among those attending were Gry Larsen, State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Judi Cheng-Hopkins, UN Assistant Secretary General for Peacebuilding Support, Marta Ruedas, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UN Development Programme, Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberian Minister of Gender and Development and civil society activists from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Zambia.

WP1191 - image 2

Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberian Minister of Gender and Development (left) and Suzanne Matale, General Secretary, Council of Churches in Zambia

 

Among key issues discussed at the conference were:

  • The UN itself needs to set a better example in implementing the seven-point action plan, and there should be increased UN accountability on the women, peace and security agenda. For example, only a small minority of UN-supported peace processes had women in negotiating parties. There has also been slow progress in the UN meeting the 15% target for post-conflict recovery funding to be allocated for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • National Action Plans on women peace and security, which have currently been adopted by 39 countries, can constitute an important tool for mobilising action on the ground. Some are not sufficiently strategic in approach and need to be improved. Action plans need robust reporting and monitoring mechanisms.
  • Advancing the participation of women in peace processes and public life needs to be supported by strategic partnerships, with national parliamentarians, community and religious leaders, opinion formers in the media and academia, a range of civil society organisations, including national human rights institutions, and international donors. It also needs the engagement of men, acting as ‘champions’ for women’s involvement. There should also be a deliberate effort to sensitise young people, both men and women.
  • Poverty and conflict are interrelated and promoting economic growth post-conflict needs a multi-dimensional approach. It is not only about expanding employment opportunities, but improving the legal status of women, their property, inheritance and land rights. Land issues can readily become a flashpoint for conflict. If they are approached through a gender equity perspective there can often be a better outcome.
  • National context and cultural sensitivity are of key importance. Consulting local communities in shaping policies, through involving them as stake-holders and not beneficiaries, is key in supporting local ownership.

 

Daily News, Egypt, 1 April 2013 – an Egyptian view of the meeting

 

(left to right) Shad Begum, Executive Director, Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation, Michelle Jones, Director, Civil-Military Concepts, Australian Civil-Military Centre, Quhramaana Kakar, Director & Founder, Women for Peace and Participation and Werner Racky, Deputy Gender Adviser, Allied Command Operations, NATO

(left to right) Shad Begum, Executive Director, Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation, Michelle Jones, Director, Civil-Military Concepts, Australian Civil-Military Centre, Quhramaana Kakar, Director & Founder, Women for Peace and Participation and Werner Racky, Deputy Gender Adviser, Allied Command Operations, NATO

 

Recommendations arising at the conference included:

  • The need to establish a civil society fund for women, peace and society activities. Women’s groups and other civil society organisations working in this area require financial support to conduct their work and often lack both training and resources to make grant applications.
  • The importance of demonstrating solidarity with women in difficult conflict-related situations, which could be addressed through organising international ‘solidarity visits’. Regional networking and interaction can also be supportive in this respect.
  • A standing ‘Women, Peace and Security Advisory Group’ could be established through the UN, or gender expertise incorporated into ‘Friends’ or ‘Contact Groups, to provide guidance on the involvement of women in mediation and peace processes, and provide training. What is needed is for a gender understanding to be reflected, so that peace agreements can benefit women’s post-conflict economic and social situation.
Catherine Mabobori, Senior Adviser to First Vice-President of Burundi in charge of Press and Communication, Ministry for National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender and Bineta Diop, founder and President, Femmes Africa Solidarité

Catherine Mabobori, Senior Adviser to First Vice-President of Burundi in charge of Press and Communication, Ministry for National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender and Bineta Diop, founder and President, Femmes Africa Solidarité

 

Further information

Wilton Park has organised a number of conferences over the years on issues involving women, peace and security, including:

In May 2006, Peace and security: implementing UN Security Council resolution 1325

In May 2008, Women targeted or affected by armed conflict – what role for military peacekeepers?

In November 2012, Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations

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