Chronically underfunded, women peacebuilders need support more than ever


COVID-19 emergency response activities, Madartek, Basabo, Dhaka. Photo: UN Women
COVID-19 emergency response activities, Madartek, Basabo, Dhaka. Photo: UN Women

Women peacebuilders mediate disputes, diffuse tensions and save lives in the hardest to reach places, yet their front-line work is consistently underfunded. When progress made on gender equality is at risk of reversal worldwide, and inequalities and instability are growing, sustained funding for women’s work for peace is desperately needed. 

Here’s where we stand:

  • The share of bilateral aid dedicated to programmes on gender equality and women’s rights in conflict-affected and fragile countries has decreased in recent years, to just 4.5 per cent. 
  • Of the total bilateral aid targeting fragile countries from 2017–2018, a meagre 0.2 per cent went directly to women’s rights organizations – a percentage that hasn’t changed in a decade. 
  • Meanwhile, investments and trade in arms continue unabated, with global military spending reaching a record USD $1.9 trillion in 2019 – the largest annual increase in a decade. This is 20,000 times higher than the amount of donor support to women’s rights organizations (UN Women's calculations).

On the 20-year anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on WPS, financial resources are falling disappointingly short of political commitments. 

“Amid the competing demands for aid awakened by COVID-19, already cash-strapped women’s peace organizations will paradoxically need to prepare for a battle – for funding,” warns Paivi Kannisto, Chief of UN Women’s Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action Section. “Sustained efforts to ensure peace and women’s rights risk being neglected amid the focus on COVID-19 responses. But can governments afford to disregard financing for women, peace and security when the consequences would breed greater risks and instability?” 

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