With the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, in 1999, the international community agreed on stepping up its efforts to integrate women in peace building and security processes. Eleven years later, most of the commitments made remain to be realised, as a recently published report concludes.
The study, conducted by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders [GNWP], consisting of 50 women's and non-government organisations (NGOs) from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America, looks at the progress made in 11 countries in terms of women's involvement in national efforts to prevent war and build peace. The report draws on the lack of UN members' reports on how Resolution 1325 has been put into practice and on the refusal of some of them to recognise gender equality as an integral part of policy discussions.
“When you are talking about peace, human rights and development — which are the major areas of U.N. work — gender is an integral component. There is no meaningful, substantive discussion that could happen if these policies do not integrate that”, notes international coordinator Mavic Cabrera-Balleza.
The Executive Director of the recently established UN Women agency, Michelle Bachelet, announced that the implementation of Resolution 1325 would be one of the body's five priorities. During an extraordinary meeting with the European Parliament's AFET, DEVE and FEMM committee, Bachelet specifically emphasised the importance of further strengthening the role of women in the Arab democratic transition processes.
In a speech held in front of the UN Security Council, Mr. Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations pointed to the need to ensure human rights in Afghanistan, “including women, children and persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities and to protect them from violence and abuse”. He concluded that “the EU firmly believes that all countries stand to gain from a greater involvement of women as important actors in post-conflict development, as stated in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), and in public life in general”. The speech preceded the launch of the transition process in Afghanistan, announced on the 22 March 2011 by President Karzai.
If the Afghan government is to take its democratic commitments seriously, a more women-friendly environment is indispensable, activists have stressed. Critics have specifically pointed to the composition of the country's Peace Council that only comprises nine women out of 70 members. Moreover it has been noted that the Afghanistan Women's Network, a non-governmental organization that seeks to ensure the equal participation of women in Afghan society, is formally represented in the negotiations but has not been involved in any of the talks.