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Reviewing Fifteen Years of Action on Women, Peace and Security: Time for New Commitments to Accelerate Progress

Caroline Green, Interim Director of GAPS

Tomorrow, the UN will mark the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, as part of a special High-Level Review. Civil society across the world are calling on Member States to demonstrate greater leadership in the Women, Peace and Security agenda to support women’s rights in conflict affected countries.

Resolution 1325, passed in 2000, was the first to recognise the link between women’s experiences of conflict and international peace and security. To celebrate its anniversary, the Security Council will hold an open debate to take stock of progress and highlight gaps in implementation. The debate will draw the findings of Global Study specially commissioned for the review, led by Radhika Coomaraswamy (former Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women) and a High-Level Advisory Group.

As well as reviewing progress to date, the Security Council debate will also look forward by calling on Member States to make new commitments to accelerate progress toward the aims set out in the resolution. Such commitments are urgently needed; as recent experiences in Syria, DRC, Afghanistan and elsewhere have shown. Women continue to suffer the impacts of conflict and post-conflict violence and yet remain largely excluded from peace talks and negotiation tables.

GAPS network members are calling on the UK Government –which leads on Women, Peace and Security at the UN Security Council – to announce a set of ambitious, concrete targets for its future work on Women, Peace and Security, and encourage other countries to do the same. Much action to date has focused on sexual violence in conflict, for example, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which the UK Government hosted in London last year. While this focus on sexual violence is welcome, the same level of attention is needed on the importance of women’s leadership and participation in peace processes. Between 1992 and 2011, just 4% of signatories to peace agreements were women. This is despite evidence that when women are included in these processes, the likelihood of achieving a peace agreement increases by 24%.

In preparation for the High-Level Review, GAPS recently published a position paper in which we call on the UK Government to make commitments in three key areas:

  1. Support the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security framework, with a focus on women and girls’ participation.

The emphasis should be on financial and diplomatic support for women’s meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making – local, national and international. Oxfam recently found that in a study of 23 known Afghanistan peace talks between 2005 and 2014 between the international community and the Taliban, not a single Afghan woman had been involved, leading to fears that women’s rights will be sacrificed in order to reach a peace agreement.

  1. Commit new, dedicated and accessible funding for Women, Peace and Security, and better tracking of all HMG spend for Women, Peace and Security activities

The UK should commit earmarked funding to UK Women, Peace and Security activities, with a clear and transparent budget for the four pillars its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, tracked through the use of gender markers.

The UN has set a target of a minimum of 15% of all funds spent on peacebuilding to be dedicated to further women’s empowerment and gender equality, and we are calling for the UK to reflect this in its own funding of work on conflict and security.

Funding for grassroots women’s rights organisations in conflict-affected regions is a crucial issue, as across the world these organisations struggle to access government and multilateral funding despite providing vital frontline services for survivors and campaigning for peace in the face of violence. Research by Womankind Worldwide, found that women’s rights organisations struggle to access funding from bilateral donors, governments, INGOs and even UN gender equality funds. The proposed Global Acceleration Instrument (GAI) seeks to fill this gap, by providing a creating a new, dedicated fund for Women, Peace and Security, however efforts should be made to ensure it is accessible for grassroots women’s rights organisations.

  1. Strengthen leadership and accountability for Women, Peace and Security.

The UK Government should join other Member States to support the appointment of a high level UN post on Women, Peace and Security, and call for further action by the Security Council on Women, Peace and Security through the formation of a working group on this agenda. Multilateral agencies and the UK Government should lead by example by ensuring that women are part of their decision-making structures. We are calling on the UN to ensure that women make up 40 of senior leadership positions by 2020.

To deliver its Women, Peace and Security commitments we are calling on the UK to announce dedicated capacity for Women, Peace and Security in all UK embassies in fragile and conflict-affected countries as well as in diplomatic missions to regional and global institutions.

During the fifteen years since UNSCR 1325 was adopted, there has been growing recognition of the gendered impact of conflict and the need for measures to support and empower women affected by all forms of violence. It is vital that the UK Government and other world leaders now make strong, renewed commitments in order to ensure that the vision set out fifteen years ago in UNSCR 1325 becomes a reality.

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