Document title: Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Office in Burundi
Period of time and topic: BNUB mandate implementation and transition to UN country team from 31 July 2014
Women, Peace and Security
The report places more emphasis on women’s participation concerns, as demanded in the women, peace and security agenda, stating that the participation of women in political and economic sectors has risen significantly. The report mentions that ONUB has supported women’s participation in elections before its mandate ended in 2006. In view of the 2015 electoral process, the report highlights UN Women’s efforts to support women’s civil society organizations to increase women’s political participation as well as their support for political parties implementing action plans to mainstream gender, including through hosting a workshop. Also as part of the elections, UN Women has supported women’s involvement in peace consolidation initiatives, including through hosting a retreat to develop a network of female mediators to promote peace, assist in solving conflicts within communities and report on incidents of gender-based violence. The report notes that an additional two projects by UN Women on women’s empowerment have been approved. The report makes note of four women’s participation in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’. Women’s participation is also included in the benchmarks, including data on women’s participation in elected and appointed bodies.
In regard to women’s protection, UN Women has helped the police with adopting an action plan to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence and started awareness raising to transform the beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of communities regarding violence against women and girls and to increase knowledge of availability of support services. One benchmark requests increasing women’s access to basic social services, but data is not available for 2014.
Additionally, the report notes activities of the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender on displaced persons and vulnerable children, which does not offer any information regarding gender or women’s participation.
References in Need of Improvement
In regard to resolution 2137 (2014), the report’s reference to the police’s two-year action plan to address and prevent sexual and gender-based violence could have been stronger if it had included training for police and security sector personnel.
The report’s mention of women’s participation could have been more detailed to ensure women’s participation be effective and meaningful. The numerous references of women’s participation in the electoral process should have considered women’s participation and protection as voters, candidates and monitors at all levels to ensure their unique concerns are taken into consideration in the implementation of the elections. More specifically, the mention of ONUB supporting women’s participation could have been stronger and more relevant if it included how it had increased women’s participation with the inclusion of women and women’s civil society organization, including through different programs or initiatives which BNUB might have been able to build upon, expand and improve. The reference to UN Women’s programs to support women’s civil society organizations and political parties should have included if women’s civil society organizations are part of the gender mainstreaming action plans and whether women’s participation at all levels in political parties has been promoted. The mention of UN Women’s efforts to increase women’s participation in peace consolidation could have been much stronger if it drew a clearer link between its activities and the electoral process as well as ensuring the women participating are representative and able to carry out their designed functions, including if they have access to the necessary power and institutional structures to be effective and how the program increases women’s capacity as negotiators. Furthermore, the report’s brief mention of two UN Women projects on women’s empowerment should have been much more detailed, including what the programs aims to do, how they include women and women’s civil society organizations in their design and implementation, how they meet women’s needs and concerns, if they are accessible to women, if they consider both political and economic empowerment, and which groups of women they target. The report should have, additionally, been more specific about the four female members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including if they are qualified, hold decision-making and adequately resourced positions and, especially in light of the concerns about civil society representation, are representative of women in Burundi. Finally, the mention of women’s overall increased participation in political and economic life could have been better supported by detailing how women’s economic empowerment has improved and what gaps, challenges and next steps there are in both areas to ensure full gender equality.
With consideration of women’s protection concerns, the report’s reporting on UN Women’s work with the police on SGBV could have been much stronger if it included women and women’s civil society organizations in the design and implementation of all programs and activities to ensure women’s concerns are incorporated, their human rights protected, and all processes are survivor-centered.
The benchmarks could have been stronger by providing a fuller range of information on quality instead of only including data. The benchmark on women’s participation could have been much more substantive if it included a geographic dispersal of women in elected positions, if those women are qualified, which types of work they oversee, if they have the access and resources necessary to positively affect change for women, and if they consult with civil society organizations, including women’s groups, in their work. The benchmark on women’s access to social services could have been stronger if the report provided information and data, but it is not available for 2014.
Finally, the mentions of the work of the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender could have been much stronger if they had included if gender considerations were a part of any of its work on providing solutions to displaced persons and vulnerable children
The only opportunity missed is in view of BNUB’s mandate in resolution 2137 (2014) to report on progress made in the protection and promotion of women’s human rights as part of the peace consolidation process.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
The resolution should be improved with an explicit reference to and analysis of all genders, emphasizing diverse masculinities and femininities, including the dynamics between and among genders as well as the power relations and hierarchies at play, and the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, and age across all political, peace, and security processes.