Why is Women, Peace and Security so important?
For over 20 years, Women for Women International has been working to empower women survivors of conflict.
We have worked with more than 479,000 women in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan.
We have witnessed how conflict drives women into poverty and isolation, exposes them to various forms of gender-based violence, and worsens discriminatory social attitudes. Both directly and indirectly, conflict erodes women’s health, well-being and access to social, educational and economic opportunities. We have also seen how women are resilient in the face of insecurity and play multiple roles in conflict. Often women become the main provider and carer for their families, despite facing multiple barriers to earning money.
The Women, Peace and Security Framework is the key mechanism in prioritising and protecting women’s rights during times of conflict. The framework recognises not only that the impact of conflict is different for women, but also that women are powerful agents of change. This includes UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 7 attendant Resolutions as well as the UNGA Peacebuilding Commission’s declaration on women’s economic empowerment for peacebuilding. There are four interdependent pillars to the framework.
The participation of women in all peace negotiations and other decision-making processes.
States should work to improve partnerships and build networks with local and international women’s rights groups and organisations (civil society), as well as recruiting and appointing women to senior positions in peacekeeping forces, including military, police and civilian personnel.
Perspective is vital in understanding the influence of gender and recognising its role in all conflict prevention activities and strategies.
This includes developing effective gender-sensitive early warning mechanisms and institutions, as well as strengthening efforts to prevent violence against women, including gender-based violence.
Protection and amplification efforts to secure the safety, wellbeing, economic security and dignity of women and girls; promoting and safeguarding human rights of women; and mainstreaming a gender perspective into legal and institutional reforms.
Promoting women’s equal access to aid distribution mechanisms and services, including those dealing with the specific needs of women and girls in all relief and recovery efforts.
Impact on the ground
Working with Governments and the Law
To ensure that commitments made at the international level lead to impact on the ground, the Women Peace and Security Framework recommends that countries develop National Action Plans. Currently only 32% of countries worldwide have plans in place and another 8% are in the process of developing plans. Governments also have a long way to go to effectively deliver on promises even when plans are in place, often due to a lack of resources or limited political will to implement such laws and policies.
Women continue to be under-represented in all areas, including in peace negotiations and in peacebuilding programmes. Ultimately, the protections of this international framework and National Action Plans fall far short of reaching the women we work with. In many of the communities where we work, ‘traditional’ or customary laws and practices have the biggest influence, alongside unwritten rules that guide beliefs and behaviours in communities.
For instance, our research in the Democratic Republic of Congo showed that customary laws discriminate against women, undermining their secure access to land and their economic autonomy by enforcing women’s dependence on male relatives.
Together we are stronger
Working with GAPS in the UK
We are passionate and committed to supporting women to meet their potential and be able to influence decision-making. To do this, we work directly with marginalised women to build their capacity to participate economically and socially in their communities. Just as importantly, we work with governments to support effective delivery of women’s rights protections.
For example, in the UK, we are working closely with the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) civil society network, to ensure that the UK has a strong and effective Women, Peace and Security policy and practice, including the National Action Plan.
We are calling for genuine and meaningful consultation with women affected by conflict, as well as participation of women affected by conflict in all UK-hosted and supported peace, security and aid events.