On the anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the UN Security Council is holding an Open Debate today on the theme of “Women's Participation and Role in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.”
The theme is particularly apt in light of the award this month of the Nobel Peace Prize to three women peace makers. This year, for the first time the Nobel Prize Committee citation mentioned UN Security Council resolution 1325, passed in 2000, which champions women's roles as peace makers and which recognizes conflict-related abuses of women's rights as international security concerns.
During the Open Debate, the Security Council is addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, ECOSOC President Lazarous Kapambwe and civil society activist from Afghanistan Orzala Ashraf, along with statements by more than 55 Member States.
“If women's participation is essential, not optional, why is it often the missing ingredient in conflict prevention and mediation? As we go forward, we need determined leadership — by all of us: the Security Council, Member States, Civil Society, and the United Nations, to fully engage women in mediation and conflict prevention. This will advance peace and security and deepen democracy around the world,” said Ms. Bachelet, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women.
This eleventh anniversary of resolution 1325 this year marks both progress in the last year and lays out the remaining challenges and expectations from women and girls in post-conflict contexts.
Huge gaps remain in the level of women's direct participation in formal conflict resolution. However, there has also been progress.
In Philippines, women make up 50 percent of the formal negotiation and mediation delegations.
In the Darfur peace process, women made up 30 percent of delegates in the civil society consultations linked to the Doha process. The resulting peace agreement for Darfur was one of two out of nine UN-supported peace agreements in 2010 that included specific provisions dealing with gender issues.
Targeted action is needed to increase numbers of women at peace tables, including: provision of financial and other incentives to negotiating parties to include women in official delegations; increasing the number of women mediators, provision of gender expertise to negotiating delegations; and establishing procedures for mediators to hold regular and structured consultations with women's civil society groups.
Increasing support to women's civil society groups in transitions and conflict is also critical. Not only does the level of funding for women's civil society groups need to dramatically increase, but the UN system has a responsibility to broker women's access to international decision making forums, such as international contact group meetings, donor conferences and Security Council discussions.
Women peacemakers from Afghanistan are making plans to ensure their voices are heard at the 2011 Bonn Conference, which comes ten years after the first Bonn conference established Afghanistan's transitional government.
Women's associations cannot compete with stronger and better organized groups in moments of transition and for this reason specific steps must be taken to open doors to women, a point highlighted in the Security Council today.
“In the next few months there will be international meetings to support the recovery of post-conflict countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Let us use these opportunities to ensure women's voices are heard and their participation is secured,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
The anniversary also provides fresh momentum in the implementation of the resolution. The creation of the new gender entity UN Women has provided a renewed impetus towards the way the international community approaches peacebuilding, with a distinct shift from a perpetrator-centered approach to an approach championing inclusiveness.
For the first time the United Nations system has a way of tracking its own progress in advancing this resolution though an agreed set of 26 indicators on women and peace and security that will enable it to assess progress, such as: whether women are equal beneficiaries of post-conflict assistance; whether the numbers of women peacekeepers are increasing; or if there is a significant increase in the proportion of women senior UN leaders in conflict contexts.
For example in 2010 although no woman was appointed a UN Chief Mediator, by October 2011 six women headed senior UN field missions and five more were serving as deputies.Over the next year UN Women will build on the momentum achieved by the Nobel peace prize and support women's participation in political transitions, work towards bringing women's voices to the table at international donor conferences, and conduct pre-deployment training for peacekeeping troops on dealing with sexual violence in conflict