INTERNATIONAL: Equal Power-Lasting Peace--Obstacles for Women's Participation in the Peace Process

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Equal Power Equal Peace

Peace matters to everyone living in con¬flict regions. It concerns those who have seen their relatives killed, their houses demolished and the economy crash – those with memories and wounds that will stay with them forever. The chances of lasting peace increase dra¬matically if not only the warring parties but also representatives from different groups in civil society, including women, sit at the negotiation table. This is not the case today and according to the World Bank report from 2011, most peace agreements fail and conflicts erupt anew after a few years. This comes as no surprise to women activists who have advocated for decades that peace processes need to be inclusive in order to be sustainable.

In 2000, the UN Security Council finally listened to the women's movement. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted. It acknowledges that women must participate on an equal footing with men in peacebuilding processes, and that gender equality is essential to building a democratic soci¬ety. However, more than a decade later and despite all efforts, the statistics show quite a different real¬ity. A study by UN Women (2010) reveals that of 24 major peace processes taking place since 1992 only 2.5 percent of signatories, 3.2 percent of mediators and 7.6 percent of negotiators have been women. The UN has never appointed a female chief media-tor.

On top of this, peace agreements often lack a gender perspective. Consequently, women's human rights are not effectively protected and the peace is not sustained. Men's violence against women con¬tinues after ceasefires and the prevalence of small arms makes this violence even more damaging and deadly. This violence brutalises society as a whole and destabilises communities. As Balkan activists expressed it, the war is far from over with the last bullet fired. Women are often left in financial ruin with no right to inheritance or legal protection. This discrimination hinders both economic and demo¬cratic development.

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Equal Power Lasting Peace