On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) reminds parties to armed conflict, and regional and international organisations, of the particular vulnerability of minority and indigenous women and girls in areas of conflict. The international rights organisation also calls on all peacekeeping missions to pay special emphasis to engaging with minority and indigenous women on the ground and better address their rights and concerns.
'By adopting Resolution 1325, the UN Security Council highlighted the need for concerted action to protect women and girls in armed conflict. Now it is time to remind ourselves of the particular vulnerability of minority and indigenous women and girls caught in conflict situations,' says Carl Soderbergh, MRG's Director of Policy and Communications.
Due to historical marginalisation and exclusion, minority and indigenous women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence during conflicts.
War has left an estimated 2 million people displaced in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Among the worst affected are Bambuti Pygmies who, since being forced to leave their homes, have suffered repeated displacement and currently live in camps. Many Bambuti women, young and old, have been raped on leaving the camp.
Afro-descendant women in Colombia, whose numbers are disproportionate amongst the millions displaced by the country's armed conflict, turn to prostitution to survive and are especially susceptible to trafficking schemes and other illegal forms of exploitation.
SCR 1325 was established on 31st October 2000 to address the impact of war on women, and increase women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. It marked the first time the Security Council addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women; and recognized the under-valued and under-utilised contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building. It also stressed the importance of women's equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.
Yet according to a September 2009 report by the UN Secretary General, 'A persistent cause of concern is that women continue to be virtually absent from the peace table and to be severely underrepresented as third-party mediators or even as representatives of the United Nations in most conflict-affected countries. Women's activism at the grass roots rarely translates into official recognition during peace processes, where they are seldom included in formal negotiations.'
'We must not think of minority and indigenous women and girls as passive victims of violence, but rather as a vital resource who should be consulted and egaged in any process of conflict resolution,' adds Soderbergh.