Be the Change
By Abigail Ruane, WILPF PeaceWomen Programme Manager
The longer I work for peace and gender justice, the more I continue to be boggled by the lack of creativity imposed by the war system, on one hand, yet uplifted by women’s tenacious and determined resilience and hope on the other.
Why, in a world where people yearn to thrive, free from fear and want, do we continue to invest and value tools and positions of war? Why do we continue to devalue and exploit care economies and undermine community resilience and peace?
We are surrounded by violence wherever we are in the world: from humanitarian crises and ongoing war in Syria to violence in Yemen and Libya; from violence against aboriginal women in Australia to violence against transgender persons in the United States. These forms of violence are rooted in our expectations of militarism and gender inequality as normal rather than something we create. This assumption, and the devastation it leaves in its wake, must end.
Women continue to demonstrate that another world is possible, one in which violence is not inevitable and that peace is something we have the power to create.
This month, the PeaceWomen team is preparing for the WILPF delegation of sections and partners who will be participating in the 15th anniversary Security Council debate and high level review on Women, Peace and Security in October 2015. In conversations held with sections from Cameroon to Colombia, powerful WILPF leaders demonstrate, again and again, innovation for transformative change. From engaging the media to include women peacemakers’ voices to providing trainings on building leadership and coping with sexual and gender-based violence, WILPF members and partners around the world continue to invest in women’s economic and political power for gender justice, peace and freedom.
If we are to overcome the endless cycle of violence and war, we must address the root causes of violence in militarised gender inequality. We must move our money to invest in people over profit, in women’s participation and economic empowerment rather than the war machine, and in justice over injustice and violence.
As we prepare for the next set of anniversaries – the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in September with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, the 15th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in October and the launch of the global study – let us renew our commitment to strengthening solidarity and mobilising for truly transformative change. Let each of us, in whatever small or large way that we can, bring women to the table, support women’s economic empowerment, mobilise our communities to tackle gendered gun violence, and create the world we want by one by one creating the resilient links to make change.
PeaceWomen Programme Director Maria Butler is now on maternity leave through 2016 and it is my honour to again lead PeaceWomen’s work during this time. I look forward to working with all of you to leverage this year of anniversaries to move from commitments to accomplishments and be the change for a world of peace and gender justice.
By Blythe Brauer
On 2 August, the final Outcome Document (‘Transforming Our World’) for the Post-2015 Agenda was released, marking significant improvements over the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in terms of advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contain a stand-alone gender goal (Goal #5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), as well as highlighting gender equality in both the Preamble and the Declaration. In spite of these advancements, more still could have been done to incorporate gender equality as a cross-cutting issue throughout the Post-2015 Agenda.
There is no specific reference to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women despite Paragraph 10 of the Document intended to “reaffirm the outcomes of all major UN Conferences and summits…” Additionally, the Means of Implementation section of the Document acknowledged the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on Financing for Development as an ‘integral part’ of the Post-2015 Agenda. This is disappointing considering the AAAA ignores gender equality and human rights (see the Women’s Major Group response to the AAAA here). In spite of this, the Agenda is much more progressive than the MDGs were on implementing peace and security. Paragraph 34 of the Document recognises the double causality between development and peace, and is committed to eliminating all “factors which give rise to violence [including] … illicit arms flows.” The Agenda is also an improvement on participation, as it aims to “ensure women have a role in peacebuilding and statebuilding.”
While the Agenda takes a stronger stance on reaffirming the need for gender equality and recognising the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda than the MDGs did, it remains to be seen how these commitments will translate into actual results. The PeaceWomen Programme will continue to monitor the Post-2015 process and advocate for greater implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
By Manar Marouf
In July 2015, the Government of Afghanistan launched the Afghan National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This makes Afghanistan the latest country in the Middle East to adopt national mechanisms for implementing SCR 1325, following Palestine and Iraq. The NAP has been released at a very critical time for Afghanistan as the government is increasing efforts to address the aftermath of decades of war in the country. During these conflicts, women were banned from participating in public life, including in the workforce and in roles of activism. Now, women in Afghanistan are increasing their participation in both the public and private sector. Earlier this month, women human rights defenders from the country met with the Taliban as part of the ongoing peace negotiations with the group. The main agency responsible for the development, monitoring and evaluation of the NAP is the Steering Committee, headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Steering Committee works in collaboration with other government agencies, civil society organisations, and international organisations.
The NAP is divided across the four main pillars of SCR 1325: Participation, Prevention, Protection, and Relief and Recovery. Each theme has a number of strategic objectives to address specific service areas of concern. For instance under the pillar of participation, there are objectives distributed across Civil Service, Security and Peace and Reintegration. Objective one is concerned with increasing meaningful participation of women in the decision making and executive levels of the Civil Service, Security and Peace and Reintegration, and objective two focuses on strengthening women’s active participation in national and provincial elections. Under each of these objectives there are a number of strategic objectives followed by a number of specific actions, expected results, indicators, reporting mechanism, time frame and implementing agencies.
Read more about Afghanistan’s National Action Plan here>>
By Ghazal Rahmanpanah
On 23 July 2015, the Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East, with a focus on the growing tensions between Israel and Palestine. New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, held the presidency. This July marked one year since the most recent round of conflict between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces, and the launch of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, from 7 July to 26 August 2014, which resulted in the worst escalation of hostilities in Gaza since 1967.
Given that no political solution is seen in the horizon, the need for a gendered perspective of armed conflict is more essential than ever. Sexual violence, in particular, continues to be used as a tool to terrorise activists and civilians, by both governments and non-State armed groups. Furthermore, in refugee camps, reports have indicated sexual exploitation of women in exchange of humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, references to the impact of conflict in the Middle East on women remained almost nonexistent, with only one reference made by the United States on the killing of women by ISIS. Iceland, on the contrary, directly spoke to the disproportionate impact of conflict in Palestine on women, ensuring equal participation of women as key to durable peace and reconciliation. It also stressed the need for inclusion of women in the peace process in response to their noticeable absence.
Read our full analysis here>>
By Ghazal Rahmanpanah
On 30 July 2015, the Security Council held an open debate on security issues facing Small Island and Developing States (SIDS). The debate Concept Note recognised that the 52 SIDS, including 37 Member States or one-fifth of all members, face a range of peace and security issues exacerbated by particular vulnerability due to size and geographic location. New Zealand, currently holding the Security Council presidency, proposed the debate and emphasised the special role of island states on the ‘frontlines of climate change.’ Secretary General Ban Ki Moon opened the debate by stating, "small island developing states do not have the resources to combat threats by themselves. Only through global partnership can we secure their sustainable and peaceful future."
Many states missed the opportunity to discuss gender equality as a crosscutting issue that impacts many of the concerns addressed in this debate. It has been show that climate change and food insecurity affect women differently than men, and often disproportionately. Additionally women are often the victims of human trafficking and frequently subjected to sexual/gender-based violence during the process.
Read our full analysis of the SIDS debate here>>