On Monday 13 July 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) co-hosted the UK Government’s oral Report to Parliament in 2019 on the UK National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Department for International Development (DFID), and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) presented their progress on the second year of the UK’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (UK NAP) 2018-2022. At this event, GAPS launched its Shadow Report, “Assessing UK Government Action in 2019”.
Baroness Fiona Hodgson of Abinger CBE, Co-Chair of the APPG-WPS, opened the event. She noted the significance of this year as it is the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the landmark resolution on Women, Peace and Security. James Cleverly MP, Minister of the FCO and DFID began by giving updates on his departments’ work on Women, Peace and Security, such as the announcement that the UK will be leading UN Women’s Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, turning commitments of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) into reality, publishing the findings of DFID’s What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls, and the continued use of the GAPS The 10 Steps: Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation report.
Minister Cleverly added that his department are funding practical measures for women’s participation in peace processes and increasing support for women peacebuilders. Admiral Tim Fraser CB, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff at the MOD also shared progress such as the use of the Joint Services Publication 1325: Human security in military operations and revisiting for a second version, continuing the Human Security training on top of existing tailored militarily training, and examples of the MOD’s recent gender equality work, such as funding courses for overseas students which includes fully funding women’s participation on tier 1 courses.
Hannah Bond, Director of GAPS, presented the GAPS network’s Shadow Report for 2019. Hannah welcomed the progress taken by the UK Government but emphasised that more measures need to be taken, especially with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. Hannah called for the UK Government to scale up its Women, Peace and Security efforts, including on: funding for Women, Peace and Security, in particular for women’s rights organisations, women human rights defenders and peacebuilding work; address the root causes of gender inequality, violence and conflict; meet its arms control commitments; and implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda domestically. Hannah also highlighted the importance of tracking Women, Peace and Security spend and that the UK Government’s upcoming Integrated Review is an opportunity to commit to spending a minimum of 15% of all peacebuilding funds on Women, Peace and Security work.
The Integrated Review was a key topic of discussion and civil society raised concerns on the process of the Review, notably if gender equality will be a policy priority in the Integrated Review and for the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Minister Cleverly responded that gender equality will be central to the new department and the Integrated Review, and that Ministers are aware of the need for gender equality and Women, Peace and Security to continue to be a priority going forward and in the Review. He offered for civil society to provide input into the Review directly to him. Both Minister Cleverly and Admiral Tim Fraser noted that the UK Government as leading by example and will continue seek to promote gender equality on the world stage. This includes not only work at the multilateral level, but also reinforcing these measures in the domestic level. The new FCDO department and the MOD ensured civil society that they will continue to push on gender equality, which GAPS and the APPG-WPS will continue to monitor.