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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: Assessing UK Government Progress on Women, Peace and Security in 2023

On Tuesday 26th March, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) and GAPS hosted the Oral Report to Parliament, “Assessing UK Government Progress on Women, Peace and Security in 2023”. The event, co-chaired by Baroness Fiona Hodgson and Julie Marson MP, provided an opportunity for dialogue between Government Officials, Parliamentarians and Civil Society on the implementation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, one year on.

Co-chairs Baroness Fiona Hodgson and Julie Marson MP opened the event, emphasising  the importance of hearing about the UK Government’s approach to the new NAP and the projects being  delivered under this agenda. The APPG-WPS’ newly appointed co-chair, Julie Marson MP, thanked Baroness Hodgson for her work that has enabled the APPG-WPS to go from strength to strength and reiterated the importance of making the NAP implementation a collaborative effort between civil society and Parliamentarians from both sides of the house.

The Rt. Hon Lord Benyon Introduced the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). He talked about the clear commitments to place women and girls at the heart of UK Government work and across government policy. Lord Benyon offered a reflection on the rollback of women and girls rights and how the FCDO is working to mitigate this through their projects, amplifying the voices of women and placing importance on women’s participation; when women are involved in peace processes then it is 60% more likely to be sustainable. Lord Benyon provided a comprehensive overview of the commitments made by the UK Government to support the WPS agenda.  This includes a £38 million programme to support WROs, and the recently published International White Paper on Development which has embedded the agenda throughout. Lord Benyon pointed to the UK Government’s commitments to more inclusive and locally-led approaches to development, giving examples from Afghanistan, Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq where there is a disproportionate impact of conflict on women and children. In the year ahead, the FCDO will work to drive forward NAP implementation and is working to finalise a new monitoring and evaluation framework. Finally, Lord Benyon concluded by urging participants at the event to keep in touch with FCDO staff for future opportunities to work together which will be more effective.

Vice Admiral Philip Hally spoke on behalf of the Ministry of Defence to outline the efforts made to mainstream the WPS agenda at home and overseas and promote an environment for women to succeed within the UK security sector. This includes adjustments made to uniforms and working conditions to best support female career progression and opportunities for decision-making. He outlined further steps taken to progress the promotion of WPS, having engaged with armed forces networks for effective feedback loop and undertaken training needs analysis for women security. He highlighted the unique contribution of the military to peace security.   In the year ahead, the Ministry of Defence will continue to implement the defence commitments in the NAP, promote WPS across defence and sustain efforts to bring women as valid leaders. Finally, Vice Admiral Hally pointed to the work being done by the Ministry of Defence to identify best practise tools to be able to move from policy to practical application.

Eva Tabbasam, the director of GAPS, was the final speaker of the event, on behalf of civil society. Ms Tabbasam began by emphasising the importance of the event and introducing GAP’s newly published report which reflects on the UK Government’s action on WPS this past year, using case studies from two focus countries and two non-focus countries. The full report can be read here. Ms Tabbasam provided three key takeaways from this year’s implementation of the NAP.


  • Firstly, she welcomed the UK Government’s recognition of civil society as a “vital policy and programme partner”, but asserted that more can be done to ensure women’s participation is prioritised and not tokenised, as seen by the recent closed-door Doha meetings. Ms Tabbasam encouraged the UK Government to leverage its diplomatic capabilities and ensure such inclusion of WROs as frontline experts.
  • Secondly, Ms Tabbasam spoke to the importance of policy coherence and how the UK Government has struggled in ensuring commitments made in one place do not clash with decisions made elsewhere. The UK’s failure to fulfil its obligations as a signatory of the International Arms Trade Treaty by continuing to trade arms with Israel was highlighted as an example of such.
  • Finally, Ms Tabbasam spoke to the positive recognition of domestic and foreign policy coherence in the new NAP compared to the increase of draconian domestic policies which undermine the UK’s credibility on its WPS commitments. As a cross-border and transnational framework, the WPS agenda must be consistently applied across the domestic and international, Ms Tabbasam asserted.

To conclude, Ms Tabbasam spoke to the opportunity offered to the UK to be a global leader, to reinvigorate and innovate the WPS agenda.

Baroness Hodgson and Julie Marson MP chaired a Q&A between the speakers and audience before closing the event. The APPG-WPS Chairs thanked the speakers, the organisers and all who attended the Oral Report to Parliament event.

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