Women, peace and security experts look ahead to 2020
Date: Monday, March 18, 2019
“Almost 20 years since the adoption of resolution 1325, we don’t just need to be at the peace table. It’s time to redesign the table,” said Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Chair of Board of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, speaking at a side event on 15 March at the 63rd session on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
“We are having this discussion with the singular goal—to close the implementation gap,” said Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, moderator for the event titled, “The Road to 2020: Accelerating Action on Women, Peace and Security”.
As the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking UN Security Council resolution 1325 approaches in 2020, experts and advocates on the women, peace and security agenda came together on 15 March to take stock of progress and the way forward at the event organized by UN Women, the Governments of Germany, Canada, Namibia and Uruguay, in partnership with the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict.
In 2000, resolution 1325 became the guiding Security Council resolution on women, peace and security. The resolution affirmed the importance of the participation of women and inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, and post-conflict peacebuilding and governance.
“After nearly two decades, we have not been able to realize the agenda in its fullness,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We know that we have irrefutable evidence on the positive impact of women’s participation in peace and security. We know for sure that women’s meaningful participation makes peace processes more durable. We know for sure that women peacekeepers increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions to respond to needs of communities they serve.”
Yet, between 1990 and 2017, only 2 per cent of chief mediators and 8 per cent of negotiators in peace processes were women. Even in the last year there have been peace talks that excluded women, such as in Syria and Yemen, the Executive Director pointed out.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized that UN Women and partners are prioritizing six gap areas that need urgent attention before the 20th anniversary, namely: protecting women human rights defenders and civil society; expanding financing for the women, peace and security agenda; increasing the number of women in uniform; promoting women’s economic recovery in post-conflict contexts; standardizing gender-responsive conflict analysis and planning; and promoting gender inclusive peace processes and negotiations.
Nasima Omari, representing the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, highlighted that in her home country, Afghanistan, women were not represented in peace talks even at the recent negotiations in Doha, and called for ensuring that women are at the table going forward.
“We want diverse, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes, reconciliation process, as well as in post-conflict reconstruction,” she said.
Women’s inclusion in peace process has proven to be critical in creating lasting, sustainable peace. When women are included in peace processes, peace agreements are more likely to last for 15 years or more.
“We need to move from informal involvement of women in peace processes…towards something more substantial and institutional,” said Jean-Pierre LaCroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations. Mr. LaCroix cited the example of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement, which includes provisions for women’s representation in all of the bodies working on implementation of the agreement.
But women’s role in peacekeeping needs investments and support from the international community, as well as the inclusion of women in politics and leadership.
“To be a woman at a negotiation table is not easy,” said Edita Tahiri, the only woman peace negotiator in the Balkans, and who has held numerous political positions in Kosovo*. “If we want more women at the table, we need to invest in women in politics,” she added.
Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Executive Director of Isis-WICCE, highlighted the need to take the conversations about women, peace and security to women in communities and pay attention to the issue of violent extremism. “We need to focus on the gendered nature of terrorism in Africa,” she said. “It is something that we are seeing that is missing from national strategies.”
Many of the speakers highlighted the critical importance of National Action Plans on Women Peace and Security in further advancing the agenda, including Doreen Sioka, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Republic of Namibia, and Ambassador Jurgen Schulz of Germany. Namibia currently serves as the co-chair of the WPS Focal Points Network, having taken over from Germany who chaired in 2018. In 2020, Canada and Uruguay will assume the same role as co-chairs.
In his closing remarks, Ambassador Luiz Bermudez of the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations said, “more women should be represented in peacekeeping… this is closely related to two of the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 5 and SDG 16,” drawing attention to the convergence of several important agendas in the year 2020, which will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
* All references to Kosovo shall be understood in full compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)