PRESS RELEASE 14th October 2015: New UK pledges on women in conflicts get cautious welcome from Campaigners who call for better results

UN event calls for doubling of women in peacekeeping operations over next five years

Charities and women’s rights campaigners have given a cautious welcome to a raft of pledges by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and other governments to promote the rights and roles of women and girls in conflict – pointing to the long list of promises that still remained unfulfilled because of insufficient resources and lack of political will worldwide.

The pledges were announced by Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, at the UN Security Council at a special event in New York to mark 15 years since the adoption of its landmark resolution 1325 that prioritised commitments to women’s protection in conflict and rights to participation in peace and security efforts.  Details of the UK’s pledges include:
·    Supporting women’s participation in all UK-hosted peace building events and in wider peace processes through lobbying and funding.
·    Training all British troops deployed overseas on issues relating to Women, Peace and Security and Preventing Sexual Violence.
·    Providing technical support to other governments – including Afghanistan and Iraq – to help them implement national action plans.
·    $1 million towards a newly created UN-managed fund for supporting women in conflict contexts.
In addition, the UK said it would be seeking results for women and girls at next year’s World Humanitarian Summit and reiterated its commitment to driving forward its Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative launched by former Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“The measures announced by the UK are positive and we look forward to seeing details that show clear commitment and substantial, specific resources for all UK women, peace and security activities. However, we need clear guarantees that women are never again locked outside when peace, security and development discussions are held on UK soil,” said Caroline Green, director of Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS).

“We’ve heard a lot of this talk before – this time we need to see evidence that political leaders really mean it and will make it happen,” Wazhma Frogh Zulfiqar Prominent Activist and Co-Founder of RIWPS Afghanistan . ”For example, we need to see a major increase in financial support for women’s organisations working in conflict-affected countries that shows they mean business.”

But progress has been slow, say campaigners. UN figures show that from 1992 to 2011, less than four percent of participants at peace talks were women. Recent negotiations hosted by Pakistan between the Afghan government and Taliban, for example, as well as talks held in Switzerland and Oman on the Yemen conflict, featured male-only delegations.

Shaheen Chughtai, Oxfam’s policy lead on women, peace and security, said: “The past 15 years have seen some positive policies and plans – but women’s and girls’ lives around the world have barely changed as a result. Too often women remain shut out of peace talks and discriminated against by their country’s own laws and governments. Unless that changes, today’s promises will remain just empty words,”

As part of its efforts to improve implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, the UN Security Council marked the special anniversary event by unanimously adopting resolution 2242, which integrates this work across all country-specific situations. The Council called for gender analysis and technical gender expertise to be included throughout all stages of mission planning, mandate development, implementation, review and mission drawdown for peacekeeping operations. Other countries made promises to support the agenda but few significant new measures were announced.

-ENDS-

This statement is on behalf of the following organisations:

Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS)
Oxfam
International Rescue Committee
Women for Women International
CARE International UK
Amnesty International UK
ActionAid UK
World Vision UK

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