Women, peace and security experts call for women’s meaningful participation in peace processes
Date: Monday, September 30, 2019
On 25 September, at an event of the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, ministers, heads of regional organizations, focal points on women, peace and security and civil society representatives called for urgent action to secure women’s equal and meaningful participation in peace processes.
The WPS Focal Points Network is a cross-regional forum for governments and regional organizations, which collaborates with UN agencies and civil society to advance the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security.
The meeting was hosted by Namibia, as current Chair of the WPS Focal Points Network, in collaboration with Germany, Canada, Uruguay and UN Women.
In her opening remarks, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, recalled the outcomes of the third annual capital-level meeting of the Network and noted the need to “improve information-sharing between regional organizations and to integrate early warning systems for conflict prevention into regional frameworks to enhance effective preparedness and responses.” She announced that Namibia will establish an International Women’s Peace Center in Windhoek in 2020.
Other speakers raised concerns about the dismally low representation of women in formal peace processes, almost 20 years since the adoption of the landmark Security Council resolution 1325 that enshrined the need for women’s equal participation in peacebuilding. Between 2009 and 2017, women accounted for only 2 per cent of mediators and as of 2018, less than 5 per cent of peacekeepers.
Participants underscored the need to adopt and implement impact-driven national action plans on women, peace and security and localization processes. Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance of Germany, noted the urgent need to protect women human rights defenders and to strengthen accountability for sexual violence in conflict “who are the people fighting every day for [resolution] 1325 to become a reality.”
Also discussed was the need to substantially increase funding for the Women Peace and Security agenda, including through innovative financing mechanisms, such as the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
Naomi Akpan-Ita, member of Fem-Wise Africa, mentioned that improved data collection and gender and conflict analysis would prompt more targeted actions on the issue.
Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, underscored the important role of young people, especially young women, in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and sustaining peace: “We believe that for women, our time has come. To younger women, in all of their diverse identities, your time has come, walk alongside of us and ahead of us.”
As the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution in 2020 comes closer, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, Jacqueline O’Neill highlighted the challenge to ensure that energy and resources around the anniversary are channeled towards actions that will have the greatest impact.
Mavic Cabrera Balleza, CEO of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders said, “Let the eve of the anniversary of 1325 not be an eve of commitment but rather an eve of unprecedented action on women, peace and security wherein the ultimate goal is to end the business of war.”
UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, reiterated her Call to Action to map out the critical WPS issues that need urgent traction—namely: protecting women human rights defenders, securing sustained financing for women, peace and security, involving women in post-conflict decision-making and investing in gender and conflict analysis. She urged the Network to push back against the pushback on women’s rights and issued a challenge for Member States to appoint women mediators and to only support mediation processes that include women.
Switzerland and South Africa announced that they will serve as the co-chairs for the WPS Focal Points Network in 2021.
During the meeting, Fernando Martín Valenzuela Marzo, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain launched the Spain and Finland initiative, Commitment 2025, to ensure that women’s inclusion and meaningful participation in peace processes becomes the norm by 2025. The initiative is alist of political and operational commitments to be assumed by states to play a leading role and proactively strive to advance the WPS agenda. Also included are specific actions for the United Nations. Spain, Finland, Norway, Namibia, Uruguay, Belgium, United Kingdom and Germany have committed to the initiative.