Editorial: Sustaining Peace: Towards An Integrated Approach That Puts Local Women's Voices And Rights At The Center
By Joy Onyesoh, WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President
WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh contributes as civil society speaker at the High-Level Breakfast on Gender Equality as a Key to the Sustainability of Peace hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland (Photo Credit: WILPF)
I was excited to receive an invitation from the President of the General Assembly to make a statement at the opening segment of the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace on 24-25 April 2018. This has turned into an affirmative and reflective week for me in many ways.
As a member of an organisation that has been advocating for an integrated approach over the last 103 years, I felt so proud to hear the reaffirmation and reinforcement of our core messaging, including around the need to amplify local women’s voices, increase funding for gender equality and constructively engage with women civil society, being repeated at the UN. At a time when historical peace discussions are being initiated in the Koreas, yet when violence continues from Syria to Myanmar, this focus is critically needed.
One of the refreshing moments for me was the diversity of speakers from outside of the UN system, who were invited to address the General Assembly. We had speakers with very practical backgrounds, who work on youth and women’s issues. I also appreciated the commitments that Member States and the UN made on driving an integrated approach with women’s voices at the center of all efforts.
On the other side of the coin, it felt sad to note that what we at WILPF have known and advocated for years is becoming an aha moment for the UN just now. This reinforced the fact that we are on the right track and that there is a strong need for our ongoing and consistent engagement at all levels.
However, the road to sustaining peace is not yet perfect.
Some gaps that stood out for me in the dialogue, including the lack of concrete ways of operationalising engagements on the ground with local women, practical mechanisms for ensuring core funding for women who work on Women, Peace and Security, lack of political will and commitment to discuss demilitarisation, political economies, and power relations. Others included the lack of integration of women’s meaningful political participation in the conversation about rights, peace and security and resource distribution, and the need to build narratives that recognise local expertise and knowledge that exists on the ground.
These gaps were evident in the approaches participants took to the dialogue.
Some participants presented themselves as the experts on the subject matter and demonstrated a closed mind as to what the sustaining peace agenda should encompass. It felt like they needed to educate those of us who seem to have missed our way in a global discussion and had come with a very limited perspective. These groups often forget that sustaining peace involves putting local women’s voices and rights at the center.
Other participants, I believe, sincerely wanted to exchange information and were authentic enough to acknowledge the fact that we all come to the table with diverse realities, from our different fields, and recognised the importance of working collaboratively to connect all the dots to make a difference in the world. This group recognised the value of local gendered conflict analysis and its impact on the very essence of an ongoing conversation on sustaining peace.
This divide was the case even during civil society exchanges on the margins of the High-Level Meeting. While sitting in a room filled with diverse humanitarian, development, peace and human rights actors and exchanging experiences from the week, it was clear that power dynamics occur at all levels.
This experience made me even more appreciative of WILPF values, of our Integrated Approach, and our local to global perspectives that put us in an empowered space to make a difference at multiple levels.
Our work has already significantly benefited from an integrated approach that the UN system is only exploring at the moment. The work that is done at WILPF’s New York and Geneva offices becomes so profound when you find yourself in a space with diverse actors from different fields on a local level. From the UN system to civil society space, WILPF stands out as a unique movement that has intentionally given itself to making an impact for feminist peace in this chaotic world.
I know that we do have a long way to go, but we are slowly and purposefully making a difference in the world.
I am happy that I could participate in this event and I go back more determined to keep up the work we are doing on the ground with the support of our dynamic and dedicated members everywhere.
By Ijechi Nwaozuzu, United Nations Security Council Monitor
Razia Sultana addresses the Security Council's open debate on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten)
On 16 April 2018, under the Presidency of Peru, the UN Security Council held its annual open debate on sexual violence in conflict. Responding to trends outlined in the 2018 Secretary-General’s report, the debate focused on preventing conflict-related sexual violence by empowering women, advancing gender equality, and ensuring access to justice. After years of coordinated advocacy, the WILPF’s coalition, the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security, was successful in supporting the first Rohingya to ever brief the Council, Ms. Razia Sultana, as civil society speaker. Ms. Sultana highlighted the impact of arms transfers and the mining industry on renewed sexual violence and humanitarian crises across the globe, and called on member states to not to “turn a blind eye” to these issues.
This year’s focus on the prevention of sexual violence in conflict was pioneering in its approach by addressing root causes and recognising that strengthening women’s participation and rights is a critical part of preventing sexual violence and conflict. The Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten and the civil society representative’s statements also took on new ground in highlighting the importance of addressing militarisation and political economies of gender equality versus war. As WILPF’s analysis has shown, increased militarisation and the arms trade fuel conflict and sexual violence. In this light, further recognition and action are needed to support disarmament and political economies of gender justice and peace.
Read WILPF’s Analysis of the UN Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict here>>
Read Civil Society Statement delivered by Razia Sultana on behalf of NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security here>>
By Ines Boussebaa, Research and Communications Fellow
Joy Onyesoh of WILPF addresses the Opening Session of the PGA’s High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace (Photo Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)
On 24-25 April 2018, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) convened a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to assess efforts undertaken and opportunities to strengthen the United Nations’ work on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. WILPF engaged in advocacy to strengthen operational and policy coherence for peace by leveraging synergies between the Women, Peace and Security and Sustainable Peace Agendas. As the UN strives to achieve sustainable peace through an integrated approach that moves from crisis response toward conflict prevention, it must ensure women’s meaningful participation and integrate local women’s root cause analysis as central to its work.
WILPF was successful, as our our calls for action were strongly recognised and came up across the Sustaining Peace discussions. WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President, Joy Onyesoh, addressed the opening session of the High-Level Meeting. She spoke of the need to stop top-down approaches and instead take a bottom-up approach that supports local women’s meaningful participation, prioritizes women civil society partnerships, and amplifies local women’s root cause analysis for sustainable and feminist peace. At a dialogue on national experiences around gender and sustaining peace, she also spoke about how women in Nigeria contribute to sustaining peace through Women’s Situation Room Nigeria and highlighted how overcoming barriers to gender equality, including by curbing arms, is key to conflict prevention.
Read more about the President of the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace here>>
Read the Civil Society Statement delivered by Joy Onyesoh at the Opening Segment of the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace here>>
By Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director
Some of the participants of the 2018 Money and Movements Convening in Nairobi, Kenya (Photo: CountMe In! Consortium)
On 11-13 April 2018, WILPF participated in the Count Me In! Consortium’s “Money and Movements” workshop in Naivasha, Kenya. Building on our work to #MoveTheMoney from war to gender justice and peace, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director Abigail Ruane joined over 100 activists and donors from around the world to identify strategies for creating a transformative funding ecosystem.
Participants at the convening explored how different actors could fit into an ecosystem that funds feminist action through differentiated but coordinated roles. Immediate recommendations included strengthening donors’ reasons to trust women, building donors’ capacity and accountability to feminist movements, and ensuring civil society self-sustainability by working to increase self-generated resources beyond traditional grants. Recognising that money is deeply connected to power, participants called for longer-term strategic and coordinated action to support system change that transforms gendered power, including by building alliances for just systems and promoting policy coherence around issues including military spending and extractive resources.
Read WILPF’s reflections from the 2018 Money and Movements Convening here>>
Find our #MoveTheMoney video, messaging, and toolkit here>>
By Rocio Maradiegue
(Visual: Gettysburg Finland Flag)
On 13 April 2018, the Finnish Government launched its third UNSCR1325 National Action Plan (NAP) for a period of four years (2018-2021). Developed in partnership with civil society, the 2018-2021 NAP serves to strengthen the meaningful participation of women across peace cycle, mainstream gender in security sector and improve the protections of women and girls while strengthening conflict prevention. The 2018-2021 NAP also demonstrates good practice by shedding light on the link between arms proliferation and women’s security. Specifically, it aims to incorporate a gender perspective into arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
The 1325 Network has been actively involved in the evaluation and re-development of Finland’s third NAP through a number of consultations. As the implementation of the NAP will be assessed and monitored systematically, civil society also plays an active role in delivering specific objectives, including developing projects aimed at fulfilling specific NAP objectives, and monitoring the NAP implementation process through its membership in the national follow-up group. Inclusive partnership for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the national level is another important step for Finland.
Read more about Finland’s 2018-2021 UNSCR1325 National Action Plan here>>