What will you do?
By WILPF Women, Peace and Security Programme Director Abigail Ruane
WILPF’s partners, Families for Freedom, demand abolishing exceptional courts, especially field, war and counter-terrorism courts and guarantee fair trials under a supervision from the United Nations. February 2017. (Photo: WILPF).
Recently a courageous Syrian woman spoke to a crowd at the United Nations. She reminded the audience of the recommendations for action on Syria which have been consistently shared and consistently disregarded over the past five years. “What can you do? What will you do?”, she asked. “Do more.”
In the face of horrific violence in Syria and attacks in Somalia, Egypt, Pakistan and Sweden, there are different paths that we can take in responding to crises. On one hand, the outpouring of love, flowers and community support around the #OpenStockholm showed how one path is to strengthen prevention in a way that recognises risks but affirms open and inclusive societies. On the other hand, the three-month state of emergency declared by Egypt showed how another path is to try to reduce risks and strengthen “security” by cracking down on freedoms.
In a trade-off between “security” and “freedom”, “security” usually wins. But is this a good deal? For women and others relegated dependency, it seems more like a scam.
Military security frameworks provide a bargain for citizens whereby they trade some liberty and autonomy for protection. However, one in three women worldwide continue to be beaten, raped or abused in their lifetime. Civilian immunity has failed. And inequalities today may be at their highest of the last century.
Feminist analysis has pointed out that the military security bargain between states and people is essentially a protection racket. Although the claim is to provide security, what it actually shores up is masculine power. Through a logic of masculine protectors saving feminine beautiful souls, military security frameworks increase civilian risks by perpetuating dependency; in so doing, they legitimise spiralling government control, authoritarian power and war.
So, what is the alternative?
Everyday formidable feminist leaders show us that another world is possible. From women’s peace huts in Liberia to women’s disarmament advocates in Colombia, from feminist foreign policy in Sweden to feminist networks at the UN, women and feminist men are leading the way in showing how peace is possible by overcoming barriers and building champions for just and inclusive local communities. This month, WILPF will host a convening in Geneva to build on this historic feminist leadership and explore how to overcome longstanding obstacles and build strategic partnerships for women’s meaningful participation at the UN.
We cannot keep chasing failed silver bullet solutions. In our own spheres and spaces, all of us – international civil society, governments, UN, and others – must stretch beyond what is comfortable or normal to change the way we work. As Cynthia Enloe has said, each of us must ask: “Where are the women? What difference does it make?” The time is now to prioritise amplifying local women’s voices for justice and peace.
What can you do? What will you do?
By Marina Kumskova
On 26-28 April 2017, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) will host a convening on ensuring women’s meaningful participation in the UN. The recent US travel bans have put a spotlight on longstanding and ongoing obstacles to women civil society’s meaningful participation at the United Nations. By organising the convening, WILPF aims to tackle problems of hegemonic power and reclaim the principles of the UN Charter
Recognising that peace and justice are not possible without real partnership between women civil society and the UN for peace, WILPF’s convening in Geneva will: explore how local women's voices for peace are central to meaningful participation in today’s context of shrinking spaces; share lessons on effective current modalities and new ways of working; and surface how different actors can drive new ways of working together to put grassroots women’s voices central for peace.
Find more information about the WILPF April 2017 convening here
By Sarah Tunnell
(Visual: Sarah Tunnell/WILPF PeaceWomen)
The Arria Formula Meeting entitled “Increasing the Participation of Women in Global Conflict Prevention and Mediation” was convened on 27 March 2017 by the Permanent Missions of Italy and the United Kingdom. The meeting was framed as an opportunity for Member State and Civil Society representatives to move towards the normative goal of building a robust network of women mediators that will mitigate and overcome persisting gaps in integrating gender perspectives into peace processes.
During the meeting, participants highlighted best practices from the African context, implementation mechanisms such as National Action Plans, and barriers to women’s participation such as inadequate funding and poor coordination. The sole civil society representative to deliver a statement at the meeting, speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security, provided key recommendations otherwise absent from the day’s discussion, regarding resource allocation, localised self-selection and coalition building.
Find WILPF’s analysis of the Arria Formula Meeting here
By Alexandra Rojas
In March 2017, the Government of Brazil launched its first National Action Plan (NAP) on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) for a period of two years (2017-2019). With participation of Instituto Igarapé, the NAP was developed to expand and improve Brazil’s contribution to tackle gender-based violence, expand awareness of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in Brazilian society and increase the effective participation of Brazilian women in international peace and security.
Taking action at the national level is an important step for Brazil. However, some common pitfalls unfortunately are evident in the action plan. In particular: there are no indicators as to how the NAP’s objectives will be achieved; there is no allocated budget for the implementation; and the link between gender and disarmament is missing. In addition, it is concerning that the Brazilian NAP focuses primarily on adding women to the defense sector, rather than addressing intransigent obstacles to women’s participation and rights. Holistic implementation at the national level will require addressing these gaps and ensuring sufficient political leadership, financial support, and engagement with civil society as partners for holistic agenda implementation.
Find WILPF analysis of Brazil’s UNSCR1325 National Action Plan here.
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