18 May 2012 Arria Formula Meeting on Gender Components of Peacekeeping Missions

Friday, May 18, 2012
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes

Security Council Arria Formula Meeting, 18th May 2012

Focus: Gender Components of the Peacekeeping Missions

The Permanent Mission of Portugal held an Arria formula meeting coinciding with the Annual Meeting of Gender Advisers and Focal Points, to highlight best practices in the contribution of Gender Components to the Women, Peace and Security agenda and to the work of the Security Council more broadly.Speakers included Izumi Nakamitsu, Director of the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division (DPET), Baudouine Kamatari, Head of the Gender Component in MINUSTAH, Stella Makanya, Head of the Gender Component in UNAMA, and Ernst Lucceus, Acting Head of the Gender Component in UNOCI.

Summary of Speakers:

Izumi Nakamitsu, Director of DPET, reiterated that for peace and security to be sustainable, peacekeeping operations, along with host countries, must do more to empower and protect women. The peacekeeping leadership (the SRSG) promotes reforms that empower women in transitional contexts, including through political processes. Ms Nakamitsu explained in detail the three most important items on the DPKO/DFS agenda on Women, Peace and Security: a) Guidance to peacekeeping missions: progress in developing guidance and integration of gender concerns is being achieved and efforts will be doubled to ensure that police, military, mine action, electoral and political affairs colleagues are furnished with adequate and updated guidance; b) Partnership with UN Women: The example offered by the positive experience of the Open Days will be used to organise more such events designed to channel political concerns from the grass root level to higher political arenas; c) Training is being developed for peacekeepers to implement sexual violence mandates. Ms Nakamitsu also noted that producing joint guidance and training materials requires working in a more integrated fashion and that training requirements in peacekeeping operations are enormous, also due to the high numbers and frequent rotation of peacekeeping personnel. DPKO and DFS, with financial support of Member States, intend to prioritize training on gender areas when designing guidance for military personnel.

Baudouine Kamatari, Head of the Gender Component in MINUSTAH, has been working closely with national counterparts, as well as mission components and the UNCT addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV). An example of the synergies established among all actors in Haiti is the establishment of SGBV survivors' friendly spaces in three temporary settlements. The Government of Haiti assumed ownership of the project in April 2012. Similar spaces for the reception of SGBV survivors are being established in seven police stations, in coordination with the Haitian National Police and the Ministry of Women's Affairs. It is anticipated that community awareness, a confidential and conducive environment, as well as trained national security officers will encourage more women and girls to report SGBV cases and increase their referral rate to the justice system. Ms Kamatari made the following recommendations: a) including gender-specific language in mandate resolutions, presidential and other statements; b) including women's political participation and women and girls' security on the agenda of Security Council visits; c) advocating for the adoption of temporary special measures aimed at enhancing women's participation in public life.

Stella Makanya, Head of the Gender Component in UNAMA, illustrated the transformation of the role of women in Afghan society since the end of Taliban rule and explained that the human rights record of women has improved. For example, 38 percent of children in schools are girls, 25 percent of parliamentarians and 20 per cent of civil servants are women. While progress has been made in some areas, Ms Makanya added that issues of concerns remain, including for example, the level of women's participation in the country's transition process and in security sector reforms. In the five provinces where ISAF has handed over responsibilities to the national security forces, women’s security has deteriorated and their mobility has become more restricted. Despite a 2010 decision by the Ministry of the Interior to recruit 5,000 women into the National Police by 2020, the participation of women in the security sector remains limited today. Ms Makanya explained that despite these challenges, good practices have been applied in some areas, including with the establishment of National Family Response Units for the protection of women and girls from SGBV. At the 2011 Open Day on Women, Peace and Security, Ms Makanya highlighted that the women of Afghanistan recommended increased monitoring of the peace process that would provide accountability to commitments made.

Ernst Lucceus, Acting Head of the Gender Component in UNOCI, informed the Council Members that, in 2009, Cote d’Ivoire developed a National Action Plan on SCR1325 and a National Action Plan on SGBV, the implementation of which remains challenging. For example, women's participation in peace processes and peace negotiations has not been systematic, including in important processes, such as the 2007 Ouagadougou Agreement. This notwithstanding, recent progress was made with the nomination of four women in high-ranking positions onto the "Commission Dialogue Vérité et Réconciliation" a transitional justice body. The level of women's participation in public life also remains low, around the ten per cent mark. Mr Lucceus highlighted some good practices at the mission's level, such as working collaboratively with all ONUCI's entities for a better integration of gender in all programs and activities; coordinating gender-related issues between the mission and UN Agencies. Mr Lucceus is also working as a Women Protection Adviser Focal Point. He suggested that some of the impediments to women's participation reside in the lack of political will, including from political parties, in instability, due to changes in governmental institutions, as well as in the lack of funds dedicated to women. Mr Lucceus made some recommendations, as follows : facilitating the establishment of a legal, structural and operational framework where women can meet and adopt common platforms ; promoting advocacy to institute a better coordination of legal measures under way for equal representation of and access for women at the political, institutional and community levels.

Comments and Remarks

Council members noted the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and their appreciation for bringing the reality of the field closer to the Security Council. Council Members sought clarification on women's participation in political and peace processes, prevention of sexual violence, and the integration of gender concerns in reform of the security sector. Gender Advisors highlighted the importance of gender language in resolutions, as well as ensuring that reports from mission refer to the participation and protection of women in peacekeeping environments.