More Peace with Women Part II
Despite the fact that women are still severely underrepresented in peace processes and peace agreements, there are several examples of progress. One example is the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas in 2016. At that time, a separate group was established to provide the gender perspective in the agreement. As a result of the work of this group, and considerable pressure from women’s organizations in Colombia, the peace agreement safeguarded both women’s and men’s rights.
The UN also aims to increase the proportion of women and strengthen their influence in international peace operations . Peace operations are one of the UN’s most important instruments for maintaining international peace and security. The UN’s peacekeeping operations help conflict-affected countries with, among other things, stability-building measures, protection of civilians and facilitation of political processes in the transition phase between conflict and peace. The UN currently has 13 active peace operations around the world that include over 110,000 soldiers, police and civilians.
The UN has already done much to increase the proportion of women in its peacekeeping operations, including establishing gender equality units in all active peacekeeping operations, nominating women to leadership positions and asking member states to nominate more female soldiers and police officers for UN operations.
Women’s participation in peace operations has increased steadily in recent decades. From 1959 to 1989, only 20 women participated in UN peacekeeping operations, today the number has increased to over 7,000. Nevertheless, this is a low percentage overall, and much remains to be done to achieve the UN’s goal of gender balance.
Several studies have therefore looked at the connection between women’s participation in peace operations and whether the operation reaches its goals. They find several reasons why greater gender balance in UN peacekeeping operations is important.
One of the arguments that is often put forward is that peace operations with both female and male police and military personnel to a greater extent reflect the population, and thus are better equipped to understand the needs of the population and build trust in the local community. Female police officers and soldiers may also find it easier to gain access to women in the local community, especially in cultures where women are not allowed to talk to other men present.
An example of this is Rwanda’s female police officers who are participating in the UN operation in South Sudan. This police force consists of 50 percent women, which has had a positive effect on confidence in the police force within the UN protection camp in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
Another argument is that increased gender equality in the peace operation can contribute to increased focus on gender equality in the country where the UN force is stationed. Take, for example, the UN operation in Mali, a country located in Africa according to militarynous.com, where gender equality gradually became an important issue, with increased recruitment of gender equality advisers and a larger budget. Since its inception in 2013, the UN operation has, among other things, supported a national platform for women’s organizations in Mali and established a committee to increase women’s participation in the country’s peace process. These measures have also contributed to an increase in the proportion of women in Mali’s government.
In addition to increasing the proportion of women in peace operations, it is important that women are given leadership roles. In the UN peacekeeping operation in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Norwegian Major General Kristin Lund shared the leadership of the operation with American Lisa Buttenheim from 2014 to 2016. This was the first UN operation with shared female leadership, which led to gender equality work coming into focus. Under their leadership, the number of women in the operation doubled, and today more than 44 percent of police officers are women.
Although we see some positive features in the development of UN peacekeeping operations, there are still several factors that prevent women from participating. This can be, for example, low recruitment of women in the member countries, lack of training or formal requirements for the participating soldiers. A challenge may also be that women who participate in peace operations experience that they are not allowed to contribute to the tasks they are supposed to due to attitudes within the operation.
In order to achieve equality in UN peacekeeping operations, it is important that the UN continues to demand and facilitate women’s participation, and that member states increase the proportion of women they send to peacekeeping operations in which they participate.
6: Challenges that remain and the way forward
This year, international top leaders, interest groups and activists gather to discuss the way forward for international gender equality work and the role of women in peace and security. Resolution 1325 has helped to highlight the significance of women’s situation and experiences during war and conflict. However, many challenges remain.
One challenge is related to lack of resources and political will. The UN member states have the main responsibility for achieving the goals of protecting women and girls in war and increasing their participation in peace work. Some countries, such as Sweden, give high priority to this work. Sweden has adopted a feminist foreign policy and worked for the UN to prioritize global gender equality work when they were elected members of the UN Security Council in 2017 and 2018.
But despite the fact that 80 of the UN member states have a national action plan or strategy for how to achieve the goals in the agenda, only 40 countries have their own budget to implement the goals. At the same time, organizations and bodies working to strengthen women’s rights are underfunded, which affects their ability to achieve results.
Another challenge is related to local implementation. It is a long way from the decisions made in the UN Security Council in New York, to actual changes on the ground. In conflict-ridden long, there are many challenges to be solved. Efforts to strengthen women’s rights are rapidly being downgraded. Traditional gender patterns and skepticism about women’s participation in politics also hinder progress. Pressure from international organizations such as the UN and civil society may cause the work to receive more attention, but the UN lacks a system to hold countries and organizations responsible for lack of follow-up.
Significant progress has undoubtedly been made, but much remains to be done. 20 years after Resolution 1325 was adopted by the UN Security Council, women are still severely under-represented in international peace work. Political will, resources and a stronger focus on recruiting women in leadership positions are needed to reach goals. It will not only be positive for international equality, but also ensure a more peaceful world.
Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security
- Resolution 1325 is a decision that states that women and men are affected by conflict in different ways, and adopts. that women must play a greater role in peacekeeping work.
- The resolution was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000.
- This was the first time the UN took a position on issues concerning the role and experiences of women in armed conflict.
- The resolution recognizes that women’s participation is necessary to ensure lasting peace.
- SR 1325 points out that women must participate in peace processes at all levels, and that women have a different need for protection than men in war because they are more exposed to sexualised violence.
- The responsibility for following up the resolution lies mainly with the UN member states.
- The content of the resolution has been continued in later UN resolutions and action plans, most recently in the UN’s ” Action for Peacekeeping”, which was established in 2018 by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.