Date: 28 March 2016
Topic: Covering the period from 17 December 2015 to 18 March 2016, this Secretary-General report provides an update on the situation in Mali, focusing on progress in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, and the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Women, Peace and Security
Pursuant to resolution 2227 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an update on the situation in Mali, focusing on progress in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, and the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Accounting for major political, security, human rights, and humanitarian developments, the report refers to women’s participation and protection concerns in several instances. References to women’s participation in political processes remain descriptive, only offering sex disaggregated data on the appointment of women ministers and referring to the signing of a decree on a 30 per cent quota for women in government. Sex disaggregated data is also provided for a single instance of humanitarian assistance, in which the World Food Program (WFP) provided school meals to children, half of whom were girls. Similarly, the report notes the Peacebuilding Fund initiated income-generating activities for 300 women and young people. In contrast, reporting on women’s protection concerns, particularly in regard to conflict-related sexual violence (SViC), offers some gender analysis. The report states zero new cases of SViC have been reported to MINUSMA, which might be owed to “security threats combined with socio-cultural inhibitions and fear of reprisals.” Relatedly, the report also provides an account of investigations by the Malian judiciary into cases of SViC committed in 2012, citing advocacy efforts by parliamentarians and civil society to promote the adoption of a law aimed at strengthening efforts to combat gender-based violence. Regarding the implementation of the mandate of MINUSMA, the report provides some sex-disaggregated data on the strength of the mission and gives updates on the investigation of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) from the previous period, which, according to the concerned Member State, “could not be substantiated.” Ultimately, the recommendations section of the report emphasizes both the protection and participation aspects of the WPS agenda, acknowledging the need to protect women in conflict through DDR processes and stressing the participation of “women and young people in all key implementation mechanisms of the agreement and in the national reconciliation conference planned for later in 2016.”
References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities
Political Process/Implementation of Agreement
Considering efforts by the Government to promote women’s participation in the implementation of the Agreement remains limited, the report would have highly benefited from providing analysis of women’s challenges to political participation, including whether MINUSMA supports initiatives to facilitate regular consultations with civil society, particularly women’s organizations. The report also fails to provide information on progress made in the implementation of the MINUSMA mandate to support the Malian Government to ensure the full and effective participation of women in all stabilization efforts, including the implementation of the Agreement. Ensuring women’s participation in all decision-making processes is crucial as only a gender-balanced view on the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation on the ground can ensure that the varying needs of women, men, girls and boys are adequately addressed.The recommendations of the Secretary-General to ensure women’s participation in all key implementation mechanisms of the Agreement also would have been stronger if it did not couple “women and young people” into one category. Assumably, these two groups face different challenges that deserve to be discussed separately in greater detail.
Protection of Civilians
The report provides no information on women’s protection, despite MINUSMA direct mandate to protect women. The report misses an opportunity to provide any sex-disaggregate figures civilian casualties, injuries, and kidnappings to better show the impact of the conflict on different genders and highlight the unique protection needs of women. Considering the increasing threat of terrorist attacks and continuous intercommunal tensions, the report would have particularly benefited from highlighting their detrimental effects on women, including in terms of their mobility and pursuance of everyday activities.
Support to Military and Police
The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on women in the military and police forces, and/or discuss how gender-specific needs are being taken into account in these security processes. At a minimum, the report should advocate for trainings of all Malian military and police force personnel to include gender and human rights, particularly the human rights of women. In addition, the Secretary-General should advocate for a recruitment strategy that recruits, retains and professionalizes women in all Malian national forces within the Observation section.
Considering that no new cases of SViC have been reported, the report could have been stronger by detailing existing strategies to prevent SGBV and tackle impunity. Ideally, the report would have further detailed whether or not specific reporting mechanisms for SGBV are available, how the public is made aware of such mechanisms , and how women access the mission to report instances of violence. The success of reporting and investigation instruments for SGBV critically depends on the provision of easily accessible mechanisms, including physical safe zones staffed with female personnel where the survivors’ integrity is respected, including through assuring that no action will be taken without their consent.
The report misses an opportunity to apply a gender lens to the humanitarian situation, failing to provide analysis of either the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation, or the ways in which the humanitarian response, including emergency responses and contingency planning, are responding to gender-specific needs.The report would have highly benefited from commenting on whether MINUSMA or any partner organization had conducted gender-sensitive needs assessments to identify whether and how women are affected differently in order to effectively tailor humanitarian assistance to their needs. Additionally, information on whether local civil society organizations, particularly women’s organizations, were consulted in the design and implementation of delivery mechanisms for humanitarian assistance would have been desirable. Ideally, the report would have included information on whether measures are in place to specifically cater to women’s needs such as secure access to sanitation facilities as well as hygiene and health assistance, including reproductive health, family planning and maternal health services. Further, the report would have benefited from detailing whether female-headed households are particularly affected by food insecurity and whether specific provisions have been made or are planned to assist them. Ultimately, a greater focus on the situation of displaced persons, particularly women IDPs, would have been desirable.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
Pursuant to resolution 2227 (2015) on the mandate of MINUSMA, particularly OP 14 (c) on facilitating and promoting the engagement of civil society, including women’s organizations, and OP 14 (d)(iii) on the protection of civilians mandate, which calls for specific protection provisions for women, including the deployment of Women Protection Advisors, and OP 14 (e)(ii) on the implementation of reporting, monitoring and investigation mechanisms for sexual violence, as well as OP 23 on mainstreaming gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout the mandate, future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming regarding both participation and protection concerns. Applying a gender lens throughout the report will ensure that all genders are adequately represented and their particular needs in regards to the severe security, political, and humanitarian situation are met.
S/2016/281, para. 14
S/2016/281, para. 12
S/2016/281, para. 37
S/2016/281, para. 43
S/2016/281, para. 35
S/2016/281, para. 46-48
S/2016/281, para. 54
S/2016/281, para. 58
S/2016/281, para. 57
S/RES/2227 (2015) OP. 23
S/2016/281, para. 57
S/RES/2227 (2015), OP 23