Women need to play a bigger role in peace and security issues worldwide. That was established in UN Security Council Resolution 1325, a groundbreaking initiative to forever change the perception of ‘gender’ as being a social issue, rather than a necessary part of what it takes to create peace and prosperity. However, 15 years after the Resolution’s adoption, women’s organizations signal that too little effort has been made to live up to expectations. Cordaid, WPP and GPPAC organized a Global Consultation Workshop to bring out into the open what exactly it is that grassroots peace activists need.
For the Consultation, over 30 female activists flew in from around the globe to share their views on the achievements of ‘1325’. One of these is Hajer Sharif, a 22-year old student from Libya, who is co-founder of Maan Nabneeha or ‘Together we Build it’, a Cordaid cooperation partner. “Women need to be included in the peace and democratization processes in Libya,” she says in an interview with Vice Versa, a Dutch magazine.
‘It’s not just about promoting women’s rights, but about bringing about peace. And women need to be involved in that.’
She goes on: “It’s not just about promoting women’s rights, but about bringing about peace. And women need to be involved in that. Libyan conservatives try to convince people that this activism is a ‘western’ instrument, but women in Libya have taken to the streets since the 1960s.”
In order to make a change, organizations like Hajer’s need help from the international community. “We get a lot of support from international NGOs like Cordaid, but not enough from the international community on a diplomatic level,” Hajer says. She feels that international support has withdrawn since the Libyan security situation deteriorated in 2013. When military groups started taking over, space for women to express their concerns disappeared. “The United Nations organized peace talks, but there were hardly any women at the table.”
Hajer is not the only one regretting that in international security efforts, concerns about women’s inclusion in peace processes have taken a back seat. The action research ‘Candid Voices from the Field: Obstacles to Delivering Transformative Change within the Women, Peace and Security Agenda’, commissioned by the Consultation organizers, aims to collect experiences of women’s organizations and civil society about which obstacles prevented the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda from delivering transformative change.
An initial research finding is that the world’s security system itself is ‘militarized and based on elitist masculinities’. For that to change, the UN 1325-agenda needs to be broadened to address causes of war and conflict, the economic and political power relations underlying them, and the potential for women to make a difference in conflict prevention in their own communities.
Hajer: “To achieve change, women have to be given the opportunity to do so. It has to be much more about development and capacity building, not just about security. This is a long-term process.” During the workshop, it was recognized that the WPS agenda could become truly “transformative” when a bridge is built between the WPS agenda and the wider development agenda. Also, much more financing needs to become available to make things happen. “If only the WPS agenda would meet with as eager investors as armed interventions and weapons,” participants of the Consultation agreed.
Global Study and High Level Review
In October, UN Resolution 1325 will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a Global Study and High Level Review. The research ‘Candid Voices from the Field’ will be finalized in September and presented at the High Level Review in New York, to give additional input from those who are facing exclusion and insecurity in their day-to-day lives: they know what goes on and what truly needs to change.
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