On Tuesday 20 October 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS), together with GAPS hosted an event titled “20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325; the Past, Present and future of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda”. To mark the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, the landmark resolution on the Women, Peace and Security agenda, this event was hosted to provide a valuable and important dialogue to explore challenges and opportunities as well as to identify the future of the agenda.
The event heard from: Air Vice- Marshal Alastair Smith, Ministry of Defence, Hannah Bond, Director of GAPS, Hanaa Edwar, Chair of the Board of Trustees & the Iraqi Al- Amal Association, and Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of Peace and Security, UN Women.
Air Vice-Marshal Alastair Smith began by reflecting on some of the progress made by his department in furthering the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Examples such as opening up the front-line combat roles to women and ensuring that there are no roles and positions that women cannot fill. He also shared the commitment to increase the number of women in Defence as a whole, continue with having designated human security leads in each of the services of the MOD, further expanding the Defence Human Security Advisers course, and delivering on the commitments of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Our second speaker, Sarah Douglas, shared trends that UN Women have recorded in analysing progress on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. With only 13% of mediators and negotiators at the peace table are women, a stagnation in women’s participation in national Parliaments in post-conflict countries, and only 20 National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security having dedicated budgets shows the lack of implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as a whole.
Ms Hanaa Edwar, our third speaker of the event, shared how conflict and security issues complicated progress for women and girls’ rights in Iraq, such as the rise in internally displaced people, missing women rights activists and an increase of gender-based violence. Hanaa continued to share some of the work the organisation she works for has done, which includes a mapping survey in Iraq that monitored sexual violence against women from 2003 until 2018. This helped analyse the cause and impact of sexual violence, as well as being able to make recommendations on those issues.
Our final speaker of the event was Hannah Bond, who reflected on the past and progress of the Women Peace and Security agenda. She stressed the importance of the agenda to remain centred on the rights, needs and experiences of women and girls affected by conflict, rather than a donor driven focus of the agenda, which focuses on national security without development. Hannah shared recommendations based on consultations from the GAPS The 10 Steps: Turning Women, Peace and Security Commitments to Implementation report, such as focusing on implementation that changes social norms, delivers gender equality, reduces conflict, and delivers peace and women and girl’s rights.
In the Q&A session, speakers were asked about funding for women’s rights organisation in which Sarah spoke about how flexible funding should be available for women rights organisations and noted the UN Women’s fund, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. The speakers finally reflected on the impact that COVID-19 has had on women’s rights and the need for a full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.