With the aim of challenging the status-quo, ending conflict, and improving women’s lives, women's rights activists and civil society struggled to embed SCR 1325 - and the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda - with the principles of conflict prevention, empowerment and protection; this integration was not by coincidence, but because of great efforts and for specific reasons. Today, we continue this struggle because the combination of agency and protection of rights contributes to the power and the potential of the WPS agenda. We cannot deny the unique aspects of each area of the agenda, nor can we deny their connections. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to move forward with an inclusive, women's-centered approach. Similarly, we cannot deny the particulars of each local context, nor can we deny the inter-connectivity of our global world. As women’s rights activists, we must keep our eyes on the bigger goal of progressing toward a collective improvement of women’s lives and sustainable peace.
The synergy between protection and agency, and the connection between the local and global were never as clear to me as when I attended a conference last week hosted by the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University. While a group of women’s rights activists from various regions were discussing strategies on challenging militarism and violence against women, one of the participants received news of brutal attacks against her friends and colleagues during peaceful protests in Bagdad, Iraq. The protesters in Tahrir Square, Bagdad, were attacked, sexually assaulted and beaten. Indeed we are reminded that this is the reality for many women struggling for freedom in the Middle East/North Africa, and for women around the world in their respective countries, communities and even in their homes. As the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has done in the past months and throughout our history, we once again joined to show solidarity and support in the struggle for reform. To read our statement and see the video, click here.
Last month, I also had the privilege of attending and participating in the Nobel Women's Initiative Conference on Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict held in Canada. At both conferences, I shared and discussed our work in PeaceWomen and WILPF with others working to challenge militarism, invest in peace, end sexual violence and promote social justice.
To read about the conferences or get involved, see:
- Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. News also covers the Nobel Women’s Laureate conference held in Montebello, Quebec.
- 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign (2011):From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World:Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!
Back in New York, on 7 June 2011, the Security Council also dealt with the subject of sexual violence – which emerged as the main cross-cutting theme during the recent Open Debate on the impact of HIV/AIDS on international peace and security. The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1983 (2011), which contained language on and reference to sexual violence as a tactical weapon of war. Specifically, out of the 17 statements, 15 emphasized a link between sexual and gender based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. To read more, click here.
In Geneva, on June 10 2011, the Human Rights Council held its annual discussion on women’s human rights. WILPF joined the World YWCA, and Femme Afrique Solidaritae in making a statement on Prevention Of Violence Against Women, including specific recommendations.
I want to share some current processes that have entry points for civil society input:
1. The United Nations plans to set out its own goals on women, peace and security for the next ten years. Civil Society consultants are underway to establish what you would like to see achieved by 2020 on women, peace and security issues? See more information and the online survey here.
2. The CEDAW Committee is drafting a General Recommendation on Women in situations of armed conflict and post conflict. Civil Society consultations will take place this summer in New York. All NGOs are invited to participate in the “Day of Discussion” to be held on July 18th and are invited to submit written statements. See details of deadlines, concept paper and background here
Featured news this month includes updates from the Middle East, various regions in Africa, South East Asia, and more. It includes also news on the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the Serbian General wanted for war crimes including the killing of over 8,000 men and boys around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian conflict after 16 years on the run. In addition, there is a noticeable trend in women’s participation, including in politics, legal reform, and the women’s rights movement, in Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Lebanon, Nepal and Uganda. News from Afghanistan and Pakistan focuses prominently on ensuring the gains women have made over the past decade are not eroded. We also see the rise of violence against women in various regions, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Libya and Haiti.
This month’s featured resources include a look at gender and security sector reform from the ground. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) publication gives concrete examples of ways in which gender perspectives can be integrated in various security sector institutions and processes around the world. Another fascinating resource includes a Human Rights Watch report on Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts, and most relevant, a section on the courts and their effectiveness in prosecuting cases of rape and sexual violence. Please take a look at our Resource page for a wide range of publications and reports on women, peace and security.