The link between women and sustainable peace is undeniable. UN Women found that the inclusion of women in peace processes increases the probability of an agreement lasting at least 2 years by 20 percent, and the chance of an agreement lasting at least 15 years by 35 percent. While there is increased recognition of the gendered impact of conflict and a notable increase in peace agreements containing gender provisions, there is much more work to be done.
17 years ago, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. UNSCR 1325 outlined the need for three Ps: Protection, Participation, and Prevention. The Resolution was pivotal in both recognising the impact of conflict on civilians, particularly the disproportionate impact on women, and the inherently gendered nature of conflict. The Resolution also recognises the need for a gender perspective in UN programming, reporting, and in Security Council missions, and the need for a gendered perspective and relevant training to be provided to UN peace support operations, such as peacekeepers. Since then, additional resolutions have been passed to strengthen the Women, Peace, and Security agenda – UNSCR 1820, UNSCR 1888, UNSCR 1960, UNSCR 2016, UNSCR 2122 and UNSCR 2422.
The inclusion of women in peacebuilding has been recognised as a precursor for an inclusive conversation in post-conflict states, necessary for a balanced perspective in the analysis of conflict and helpful in providing a range of peacebuilding strategies which have been historically successful in effectively ending conflict. Gender equality in post-conflict states is often indicative of a wider societal tolerance of diversity and power-sharing, which lends itself to lasting peace. In doing so, different experiences of conflict and indeed different issues, such as Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), which is disproportionately felt by women, can be appropriately mitigated.
To date, implementation of Resolution 1325 remains largely aspirational. Women continue to represent a mere 3 percent of UN military peacekeepers. In conflict-affected nations, women on average make up 4 percent of parliamentarians – well below the global average of 22.7 percent. Women continue to make up the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons, and continue to be targeted by war tactics including sexual violence.
Every member state of the UN has been encouraged to put together a National Action Plan (NAP) on the implementation of UNSCR 1325, including measures taken to better mainstream gender (a policy tool that incorporates the consideration of and inclusion of women in all parts of the policy process). Mainstreaming is targeted at UN peacekeeping and military training and member states’ governments to adopt a gendered perspective on safety including domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence. As of April 2017, only 64 nations have a comprehensive National Action Plan with 8 more have committed to releasing a NAP in 2017. However, unless these plans are taken seriously, are appropriately funded and have people dedicated to their completion at all levels of decision-making in all nations, including post-conflict nations, women will continue to be sidelined and largely excluded from both peace discussions and post-conflict societies.
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