Women peace leaders from all over the world came together at the 14th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to advocate, strategize, and act to hold accountable the international community on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. WILPF hosted a delegation of women peace leaders from sections and partners in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Libya, Cameroon, Jordan, and Lebanon. Together, we built solidarity through sharing our experiences, engaged in advocacy and outreach, and took action to strengthen violence prevention, disarmament, and women's full and equal participation and rights. We joined together to demand not just commitments but accomplishments for gender equality, disarmament and peace.
I never cease to be shaken by the power of women peace leaders. To me, they are an ongoing testament to the message of why it is so critical to invest in women's leadership for peace and build capacity for women's power to stop war. At Tuesday's debate, we applauded civil society speaker Suaad Allami's statement that “conflict prevention lies at the core of the women, peace and security agenda and all solutions must address the root causes of conflict and displacement. This includes addressing disarmament and demilitarization.”
Throughout the week, we tried to find a balance in advocacy, outreach and political action on one hand, with solidarity and relationship building, sharing of experience, and cultivation of shared ties on the other. In the end, I found both powerful.
We built solidarity and strategized at our Monday WILPF workshop "Leveraging Women's Action for Peace," attended the Security Council Open Debate on Women Peace and Security, briefed member states on preventing state and non-state violence in Syria and Iraq, participated in a civil society consultations on the 2015 WPS Global Review and the Swedish National Action Plan (NAP), hosted an event on Boko Haram, and engaged in a variety of bilateral and other meetings to strengthen action for disarmament and women's participation and rights.
At our closed Iraq/Syria briefing Wednesday, participants put out a powerful call for the international community to put their weight behind a political solution. They pointed out that action is possible: the international community has mobilized around a military response to DAESH/ISIL. However, violence only creates violence. We cannot look aside while this violence continues unabated. Instead, we must use our power for active nonviolence and peace.
At our Boko Haram event on Thursday, WILPF Nigeria and WILPF Cameroon brought attention to how militarization and state violence creates a conducive environment for non-state extremism and violence, and how critical it is to address the range of militarized violence and invest in gender equality, violence prevention, and peace. “It is critical to draw the link between the global arms trade and Boko Haram,” said WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh. “This is why the Arms Trade Treaty is key.”
WILPF's advocacy and outreach was part of a successful push to raise issues of demilitarization, disarmament, and women's full and equal participation and rights on the international agenda as we near the 15-year mark of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. However, there is much that remains to be done.
2015 will be a critical time – with the 15 year WPS review, Beijing+20, the launch of the Post-2015 sustainable development goals, and WILPF's 100th anniversary peace summit. We look forward to continuing to amplify the voices of peace women leaders around the world to speak truth to power, demand accountability, and create a world of greater peace and gender justice.
Also included in this month's edition is the Security Council monitor article on Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors. We feature our summary of the Boko Haram event, as well as a closed briefing on Syria and Iraq. We also share a survey on the Maputo Plan of Action, a statement from women peace makers in Iraq, and invite you all to take part in the 16 Days of Activism campaign to end gender based violence. Read and share widely!
On October 28, 2014, the Security Council held its fourteenth annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security with a focus on Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors. The debate - which included 70 speakers - brought attention to the situation of the hundreds of thousands of women who have been displaced, and how women are disproportionately affected by the experience of displacement. Suaad Allami gave the civil society statement on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG). A Presidential Statement (PRST S/PRST/2014/21) was adopted at the debate.
Many speakers focused on violent extremism, including as a driver of displacement. Speakers called for better legal and security protection mechanisms for women against human rights abuses, increased participation of women in peacemaking efforts, and better social services in terms of healthcare (including psychological aid) and education, and more effective bridging of remaining implementation gaps. The Ambassador of Malaysia, for instance, emphasized that it was critical to end the culture of impunity and replace it with a system that promotes justice and the rule of law, especially when dealing with the protection and prevention of violence against women. DPKO emphasized that, “we must recognize that the best way to protect and support [internally displaced] women is to help women help themselves.”
WILPF reminds the international community that militarization supports a continuum of violence - including both state and non-state actors - and calls for increased action on demilitarization, disarmament, and support of women's full and equal participation and rights in creation and maintenance of peace.
As part of PeaceWomen's ongoing lecture series on Women, Peace and Security with the Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations and the Liechtenstein Institute of Self Determination at Princeton University, WILPF co-hosted the event “Boko Haram and the Cycles of Violence: Strengthening Prevention Using the Women Peace and Security Agenda” on 30 October 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The panel included representatives from WILPF Nigeria, Cameroon, and Human Rights Watch.
According to WILPF-Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh, “Boko Haram is waging war against women and girls and against the whole of Nigeria.” Ms. Onyesoh shared about how WILPF uses the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda to create change by working with local communities in different political zones to promote women's participation in security discussions. Sylvie Ndongmo of WILPF-Cameroon highlighted the gendered impacts of Boko Haram in Cameroon, including the decline in enrollment of girls in school and the escalation of violence against women, number of displaced persons, violations of human rights, and arms circulation among the population. “Prevention is better than cure,” Ms. Ndongmo affirmed. “Peace is the key element of development.” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Women's Rights Division Director Liesl Gerntholtz presented HRW's new report on Boko Haram, noting that what is happening in Nigeria and Cameroon with Boko Haram is an armed conflict, and thus subject to international agreements -- including the Geneva Conventions and International Criminal Court (ICC) -- and other international human rights and humanitarian law. Participants called for increased action to bring back the Nigerian school girls, strengthen women's political participation, and prevent continued abductions and violence. Read full analysis of the event here.
On Wednesday October 29th 2014, WILPF hosted a closed briefing with member states on “Syria and Iraq: Recommendations on Promoting Peace and Combatting State and Non-State Violence” at the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations. Five women leaders from Iraq and Syria briefed member states and civil society on the situation of women in the region and their recommendations for promoting gender justice and peace.
All speakers brought attention to how militarism promotes a spectrum of violence, from non-state extremism to sexual and gender based violence including survival sex, trafficking including early, child, and temporary marriage. Syrian speakers called for action at any price to support a political solution for sustainable peace built on justice. Iraqi speakers called for an end to proliferation, a strengthening of data on violence, and increased support for women human rights defenders.
The speakers powerfully brought to light how the international community has accepted violence in their communities as inevitable, pointed out that their situations are not normal but extreme, and that the current violence is enabled by inadequate international community action for peace. They demanded increased political will, creativity, financing, and action to strengthen opportunities for gender justice and peace at every level.