WILPF CSW 56: UNSCR 1325 and Rural Women, 1 March 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012
United Nation Theme: 

This event was dedicated to highlighting with a particular focus on rural women the challenges of 1325 implementation at the National and International level. Panelists took the stage to address the issues specific to their context and to discuss their recommendations for effective 1325 implementation.

Speaking first was Sara Arumugam from YWCA Sri Lanka, who spoke of the obstacles confronting rural women in post-conflict Sri Lanka. These included increased insecurity both personal and financial by consequence of displacement, here Sara emphasised that rape and abduction were not uncommon in the IDP camps (“safe areas”) and that many women, uneducated, widowed and in a third of cases under 20 had been forced to turn to prostitution for survival. This Sara emphasised as a double negative in that the high levels of prostitution seen in the camp were leading to a dramatic increase in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in these areas.
According to Sara, this situation is largely facilitated by the ongoing inability of rural women to access the property and resources needed to sustain themselves and their families and to achieve the goals of 1325.
One positive however has been the taking on of community leadership roles by certain women, YWCA is working to enhance this trend by undertaking rights education and 1325 training in several rural communities.

Referring to both the consequences of the occupation and those produced by a lack of rights for women locally, the second panelist Arda Aghazarian highlighted the complex nature discrimination faced by women in Palestine. Arda spoke of how this double oppression has resulted in high levels of domestic violence, institutionalised inequality and a lack of education reflected by an employment rate in some areas of only 17%.
Arda emphasised her politicisation as a Palestinian, however she also mused that maybe women can't help but be in politics either, here she called on Palestinian women to overcome their political cynicism and to take action to achieve their rights.

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Director of Femlink Pacific discussed the challenges and opportunities relevant to 1325 implementation in the South Pacific. Sharon emphasised the link between current masculine definitions of security and the ongoing violence experienced by women in her region. Sharon spoke of the Regional Action Plan, currently in development as a “transformational tool”, able to promote women's empowerment through targeted actions and ensure compliance by way of monitoring mechanisms. Sharon highlighted the role of rural women in the RAP's formation and spoke of the importance of including rural women's voices in the creation and implementation of development strategies. Sharon also emphasised the necessity of invloving youth in the process as the next generation of women, outlining to this end the local youth radio program being driven by Femlink in the Pacific.

Speaking last was the Director of Peacewomen Project, Maria Butler. Maria emphasised 1325's utility as a CSO tool to achieve change, she also highlighted however, that the gap between international policy and implementation at the national level remains rather gaping. According to Maria, one way of pushing for more efficient implementation of 1325 is through the legally binding treaties such as CEDAW. Advocacy remains key to implementation and all CSOs should be continuously pushing both Member States and UN organs to meet the requirements of the Resolution.
Moving forward Maria spoke of the upcoming ATT treaty and how it must be strengthen to make sure SLAW are included given that the majority of VAW in conflict situations is carried out in the presence of such weapons. Finally, Maria called on CSOs to advocate on behalf of the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Margot Wallstrøm in order to ensure that as a key tool to 1325 implementation there is no dilution of her mandate.

Speakers included:
Sara Arumugam, YWCA Sri Lanka
Arda Aghazarian, YWCA Palestine
Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Director FEMLINK Pacific
Maria Bulter, Director Peacewomen Project