Facts and figures: Women, peace, and security

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Women’s meaningful participation in peace processes

  • Between 1992 and 2019, women constituted, on average, 13 per cent of negotiators, 6 per cent of mediators, and 6 per cent of signatories in major peace processes worldwide. About seven out of every ten peace processes did not include women mediators or women signatories [1].
  • Worldwide, the proportion of peace agreements with gender equality provisions increased from 14 to 22 per cent between 1995 and 2019 [2].
  • Between 2015-2019, only 11 per cent of ceasefire agreements included gender provisions, compared to 26 per cent of other peace agreement types [3].
  • In Mali, after the signing of the Algiers peace agreement in 2015, women made up 3 per cent of the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, 6 per cent of the National Council for Security Sector Reform, 20 per cent of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, and 4 per cent of the subcommittees of the Agreement Monitoring Committee [4].
  • In the Central African Republic, the proportion of women in the formal monitoring mechanisms of the Peace Agreement is 17 per cent at the national level and 23 per cent at the local level [5].
  • In South Sudan, only two committees have met the 35 per cent quota for women laid out in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan [6].
  • Colombia offers the rare exception where women are better represented and where the implementation of the gender provisions in the peace agreement are tracked by both the government and civil society [7].

Promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls

  • In 26 conflict-affected countries, the United Nations has verified 102 killings of women human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists from 2015 to 2019, a likely undercount [8].
  • In 2019, the United Nations documented 2,838 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, of which 96 per cent targeted women and girls [9].
  • Women and girls with disabilities are disproportionately represented in conflict settings. For instance, according to the December 2019 Humanitarian Needs Assessment in the Syrian Arab Republic, 28 per cent of all displaced women in Syria were women with disabilities [10].
  • In 2018, women and girls accounted for about 65 per cent of more than 45,000 detected trafficking victims globally [11].
  • A growing body of evidence points to the critical role of gender norms and power structures in determining the impact of climate-related security risks on women and men. In the Dry Corridor of Central America, for instance, climate-related migration has increased women’s burdens by having to travel greater distances to secure water and to spend more time caring for ill people of all ages [12].
  • In 2019, acute hunger increased to 135 million people, of which 60 per cent live in conflict/insecurity countries [13].
  • Yemen remained the world’s worst food crisis. An estimated 15.9 million people or more than half (53 per cent) of Yemen’s population were in Crisis or worse situation [14]. Additionally, an estimated 7.4 million people required malnutrition treatment or prevention intervention, including 3.2 million children aged 6–59 months and more than 1 million pregnant and lactating women in 2019 [15].
  • In certain conflict-affected or fragile states, maternal mortality is alarmingly high, though the ratio worldwide dropped by 38 per cent since 2000 (from 342 to 211 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births). The maternal mortality has worsened in Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela in recent years [16].
  • Funding for promoting gender equality in humanitarian action remains low. A joint study by UN Women and UNFPA covering Bangladesh, Nigeria, Jordan, and Somalia showed that less than 51 per cent of the funding requested to meet the needs of crisis-affected women and girls was received, and gender-targeted programmes were disproportionately underfunded [17].

Financing the women, peace, and security agenda

  • Total bilateral aid committed to support gender equality in fragile and conflict affected countries continued to increase, reaching USD 20.5 billion per year between 2017–2018. However, the share of aid dedicated to programmes or projects with the primary objective of improving gender equality and women’s rights has decreased to 4.5 per cent in 2017–2018 from 5.3 per cent in 2015–2016 [18].
  • Over the last decade, bilateral aid directly to women organizations in fragile or conflict-affected countries has stagnated at 0.2 per cent of total bilateral aid (USD 96 million on average per year in 2017–2018) [19].
  • In 2019, the Peacebuilding Fund approved investments of USD 191 million in 34 countries. 40 per cent of all Fund investments supported gender-responsive peacebuilding, within which 14 per cent was dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective, an increase from 12 per cent in 2018 [20].
  • The Myanmar Joint Peace Fund has earmarked 15 per cent for gender equality and opened a separate window for women, peace and security. In Colombia, the Multi-Partner Trust Fund raised this minimum from the original 15 per cent to 30 per cent in 2019 [21].
  • Since 2016, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund has funded more than 200 grassroots civil society organizations in conflict-affected countries and humanitarian settings [22].
  • In 2019, total expenditure by UN Women on peace and security programming and humanitarian interventions rose to USD 110.53 million, up from USD 89.44 million in 2018, increasing the reach of programming from 55 to 65 countries and territories [23].

Women’s leadership and political participation

  • Many analysts have noted how women leaders around the world have demonstrated successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic based on inclusive, evidence-based leadership. Yet, women lead only seven per cent of countries [24].
  • A survey of 30 countries with COVID-19 task forces and committees showed that, on average, only 24 per cent of members were women. In conflict-affected countries, women’s representation in COVID-19 taskforces is even lower, at 18 per cent [25].
  • Worldwide. women’s representation in national parliament has increased from 13.1 per cent in 2000 to 24.9 per cent in 2020. In conflict-affected countries, women’s representation in parliament remains lower at 18.9 per cent in 2020 [26].
  • In 2020, women’s representation in national parliament in conflict and post-conflict countries with legislated quotas is more than twice that of those without (23 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively); the share of women in local government with quotas is 26 per cent, more than three times higher than that of those without [27].
  • In Afghanistan, 25 per cent of the provincial council seats are reserved for women. However, the leadership of the 34 councils is overwhelmingly held by men, who chair 33 of them [28].
  • Women’s representation in Mali’s parliament increased noticeably to 28 per cent in 2020 from about 10 per cent over the last two decades [29].

National and regional strategies for advancing women’s peace and security

  • As of October 2020, 88 countries (and territories) had national action plans (NAPs) on women, peace and security (close to half of the United Nations membership) — an increase from 53 in 2015 and 19 in 2010. Seventy-eight per cent of European Union Member States have adopted NAPs, and 47 per cent of African Union Member States [30].
  • 55 local action plans on women, peace and security have been adopted in 16 countries [31].
  • Only 20 NAPs included a budget at adoption [32]. Canada, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are among countries that have taken steps towards more comprehensive tracking of NAP-related spending [33].
  • Only 17 NAPs mention climate change. Gender equality is largely absent from policy debates on climate change and security [34].
  • As of September 2020, the Women and Peace and Security Focal Points Network had 87 members [35].
  • In 2019, global military expenditure reached USD 1.9 trillion, following the largest annual increase in a decade [36]. Only 24 NAPs include disarmament as a focus area [37].
  • As of January 2020, four countries—Canada, France Mexico and Sweden—had adopted feminist foreign or development policies [38].

UN progress on gender parity and mainstreaming in peace and security

  • The United Nations Secretary-General’s gender parity strategy has yielded positive results. As of August 2020, women accounted for 41 per cent of the senior leadership of special political missions and peacekeeping operations, an increase from 21 per cent in in 2017 when the strategy was launched [39].
  • Gender parity has been sustained among United Nations Resident Coordinators globally since 2017; and, for the first time, reached across conflict-affected countries in 2019 [40].
  • As of September 2020, ten peacekeeping missions had gender units, and seven of them were located in the office of the head of the mission [41].
  • Among special political missions, there were 27 Gender Advisers in 2019, a historic high. Five missions were served by senior Gender Advisers (P5 or above) and nine missions were served by P4 level Gender Advisers. Gender Advisers were absent in seven missions, in which three had less than 10 professional staff [42]. In special political missions, the majority of gender posts and activities are funded through extrabudgetary resources [43].
  • In 2019, seven peacekeeping operations and special political missions had women protection advisors [44].
  • As of May 2020, 5.4 per cent of United Nations military and 15.1 per cent of police personnel were women, compared to 3 and 10 per cent respectively in 2015 [45].

Security Council’s work on women, peace and security

  • Since 2000, the Security Council has adopted a total of ten dedicated resolutions on women, peace and security: resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013), 2242 (2015), 2467 (2019), and 2493 (2019) [46].
  • Security Council resolutions with explicit references to women, peace and security issues reached 70 per cent on average between 2017 and 2019, compared to 15 per cent from 2000–2005 [47]. The Council’s attention to the agenda, however, remain uneven. In 2019, 67 per cent of the resolutions adopted by the Council included women, peace and security, slightly down from 72 per cent in 2018. The proportion of presidential statements dropped sharply to 40 per cent, compared to 85 per cent in 2018 [48].
  • More women civil society representatives brief the Security Council. In 2019, 39 per cent of the 387 speakers that briefed the Council were women, breaking the previous records of 30 per cent in 2018 and 24 per cent in 2017 [49].

Women, peace and security and the COVID-19 pandemic

  • A survey by the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund found 30 per cent of its local civil society partners reported that their organization’s existence was at risk due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects [50].
  • The pandemic and worldwide lockdowns exposed the enormous value of unpaid care and domestic work for the economy and how disproportionately this burden is shouldered by women. In several conflict-affected countries, women perform three to seven times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men [51].
  • A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s projection conducted in April 2020 estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in more than 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries not being able to access modern contraceptives, and 7 million unintended pregnancies being expected to occur if the lockdown carries on for 6 months and there are major disruptions to health services. For every 3 months the lockdown continues, up to an additional 2 million women may be unable to use modern contraceptives [52].
  • After the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, increased violence against women and girls has been reported by government, civil society organizations, women’s rights organizations, and media reports in about 70 countries across different geographic regions [53]. Selected reports include:
    • After the pandemic outbreak, there has been an increase in calls to helplines [54]. In Tunisia, for instance, calls to a helpline in the first days of confinement increased fivefold.
    • The frequency and intensity of violence has increased. For instance, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Center for Women’s Rights reports rates of physical violence against survivors who are now in lockdown with their perpetrators are rapidly increasing, accompanied with increased rates of psychological violence [55].
    • Violence in humanitarian setting has also increased. In Iraq, the Organization of Women’s Freedom reported that intake requests have doubled since the lockdown, especially from young women. In the State of Palestine, the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling reported a 75 per cent increase in social and legal consultations, primarily from urban areas, but also from the rural areas and refugee camps [56].
  • The International Labour Organization’s latest data show that under the COVID‑19 pandemic, employment losses are larger for women than for men. For instance, in Colombia, the decline in employment between Q2/2019 and Q2/2020 was 27 per cent for women and 18 per cent for men [57].
  • In response to COVID-19 crisis, more than 417 policy measures have been enacted by national governments in 42 conflict-affected countries with data. Of these, 179 measures (43 per cent) are gender-sensitive, seeking to directly address the specific risks and challenges that women and girls face as a result of the pandemic. The majority measures address violence against women and girls (125 measures across 27 countries), followed by measures to address women’s economic security (47 measures across 26 countries), with very few measures to address unpaid care work (7 measures across 5 countries) [58].

Notes

[1] Data come from the Council on Foreign Relations, Women’s participation in peace processes.

[2] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 22. Data come from the Peace Agreements Database (PA-X) maintained the University of Edinburgh.

[3] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 22. Data come from the Peace Agreements Database (PA-X) maintained the University of Edinburgh.

[4] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 23.

[5] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 23.

[6] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 23.

[7] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 23.

[8] Data came from OHCHR, in cooperation with UNESCO and ILO. Organizations like CIVICUS and Front Line Defenders report higher numbers.

[9] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence (S/2020/487), para. 70.

[10] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 39.

[11] UNODC (forthcoming). Global report on trafficking in persons, 2020.

[12]Christian Aid (2019). Climate migration in the Dry Corridor of Central America: Integrating a gender perspective.

[13] World Food Programme (2020). Global report on food crises 2020.

[14] World Food Programme (2020). Global report on food crises 2020.

[15] OCHA (February 2019). Yemen: 2019 humanitarian needs overview.

[16] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 40.

[17] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 44.

[18] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 94. Data come from the OECD Creditor Reporting System.

[19] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 94.

[20] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 98.

[21] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 99

[22] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 100

[23] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 97.

[24] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 3.

[25] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 3.

[26] Data from IPU. Women in national parliaments as of January 2020.

[27] Data on proportion of women in national parliaments obtained from the SDG Global Database, accessed May 2020. Data on gender quotas obtained from IDEA, Stockholm University and IPU, Global Database of Gender Quotas, accessed May 2020.

[28] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 55.

[29] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 25.

[30] UN Women’s analysis of national and local action plans on women, peace and security.

[31] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 7.

[32] UN Women’s analysis of national and local action plans on women, peace and security.

[33] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 95.

[34] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 75.

[35] See the WPS Focal Point Network.

[36] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2020). “Global military expenditure sees largest annual increase in a decade—says SIPRI—reaching $1917 billion in 2019”.

[37] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 47.

[38] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 80.

[39] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 85.

[40] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 85.

[41] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 86.

[42] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 85. Office of the Special Envoy for Burundi, Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon/Office of the Special Envoy for Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement, United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, Office of the Special Envoy on Myanmar, and UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions; the latter three all have fewer than 10 professional staff.

[43] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 86.

[44] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 86.

[45] United Nations Peacekeeping. Gender Data, accessed July 2020.

[46] See UN Women, Global norms and standards: Peace and security.

[47] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 104.

[48] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), footnote 75.

[49] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 105.

[50] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 101.

[51] United Nations Security Council (2020). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2020/946), para. 62.

[52] UNFPA (2020, April). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family planning and ending gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage.

[53] Majumdar, S., Wood, G. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on violence against women through the lens of civil society and women’s rights organizations, UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. And UN Women (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls and service provision: UN Women rapid assessment and findings.

[54] In 38 out of 49 countries where UN Women rapid assessment of the global impact of the COVID-19 outbreak was conducted.

[55] Majumdar, S., Wood, G. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on violence against women through the lens of civil society and women’s rights organizations, UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

[56] Majumdar, S., Wood, G. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on violence against women through the lens of civil society and women’s rights organizations, UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

[57] ILO (2020). ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Sixth edition. Updated estimates and analysis, 23 September 2020.

[58] COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker. Data as of 30 September 2020.

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