Civil Society

How is civil society involved in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) around the world work to build peace and equality in communities at the national and international levels. Women's civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations play a critical role in realising change and commitments to Women, Peace and Security (WPS). They implement conflcit resolutions; they struggle to make decision-making inclusive; they document; they respond; they organise; and they make a difference in the lives of those affected by conflict. Civil society, particularly women’s groups - including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) –- advocated for the creation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 and continue to play a significant role in implementing the holistic aims of the WPS Agenda.

The vital role of civil society, particularly women’s Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), is so important but often unrecognised, marginalised and under-valued. The significant work of women’s CSO in conflict situations is all the more extraordinary because they are frequently excluded from formal conflict resolution processes, political dialogue, and post-conflict peacebuilding systems, including the mechanisms and institutions responsible for the implementation of peace accords and post-conflict planning processes.

There remains an urgency of supporting women’s organisations, advocates and women’s rights defenders in a spectrum of work related to WPS. Support must be political, technical and financial. It must include supporting and ensuring women civil society’s participation in peace processes, in all aspects of the rebuilding of judicial, security, and political institutions, and in constitution drafting.

Women’s organisations, in contexts of conflict and post-conflict situations, are often subject to specific security threats. Even when participating in peace processes and in post-conflict implementation of peace agreements, women civil society leaders and activists are subjected to intimidation and harassment, particularly in societies in which these women are playing non-traditional roles. Concerted attention must be paid to the protection of women’s groups and women human rights defenders to ensure that threats to their security do not impede their participation in conflict resolution and political processes, including transitions.