Statement by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to the UN Security Council - The Implementation of and Strict Compliance with UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Case of Iraq

Friday, May 16, 2003


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On May 1st, PeaceWomen sent out a compilation of some of the recent and ongoing civil society, UN and government initiatives to address women's participation in reconstruction in Iraq. The purpose of the list is to see what has already been done to address this issue, be aware of the variety of ongoing initiatives, and to strategize about what the next steps might be in our efforts to ensure that Iraqi women are equal participants in the reconstruction efforts.

Since PeaceWomen first started circulating the list, a number of initiatives have been added to the list including: news of an upcoming meeting of Iraqi women in Baghdad; the transcript of a House of Lords discussion; a comment by Deputy Secretary Armitage made during a BBC interview; and a letter from the Kurdish Women Action Against Honour Killing.

For the updated list, click here.

To ensure that this list remains up-to-date and accurate, PeaceWomen welcomes your input. To provide input, contact

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2. 1325 NEWS

Visit our updated news pages on Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Israel-Palestine

Africa's First Ladies Hold Fourth Annual Summit
May 15, 2003 – (UN Wire) Africa's first ladies today begin their fourth annual summit to discuss peace and humanitarian issues with each other and representatives from the United Nations and other groups, Agence France-Presse reports.

Women in Afghanistan Fear New Taliban-Like Rule
May 15, 2003 – (WeNews) A women's rights activist struggles to publicize the persecution of women in post-Taliban Afghanistan, where fundamentalist pressures are returning and the burqa is back.

Law Offers Some Protection to Women
May 14, 2003 – (IRIN) Salome Moine, an MP for the ruling FRELIMO party, held her fist high and shouted enthusiastically, "Viva FRELIMO! Baixa com poligamia!" (Long live FRELIMO, down with polygamy).

More Efforts Needed by OSCE States to Increase Participation of Women in Public and Economic Life
May 13, 2003 – (OSCE) Participants of an international conference in Warsaw called on the OSCE and its participating States to reinforce efforts to ensure equal participation of women in public and economic life. The three-day meeting, which opened earlier today, is organized by the OSCE's human rights institution, the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Cairo Conference Examines Discrimination, Violence
May 13, 2003 – (UN Wire) Arab women continue to suffer from violence, intimidation and discrimination because of traditional practices and beliefs, speakers said yesterday at a conference in Cairo, "Violence Against Women: Its Causes and Consequences."

African Widows Left Destitute by Relatives Snatching Property
May 13, 2003 – (Christian Science Monitor)– When Tamara Zulu's husband died, leaving her as the sole breadwinner, she turned to her skills as a tailor to support her five children. Then came Ms. Zulu's in-laws.

Women Arrested During Mother's Day March
May 12, 2003 – (IRIN) Forty-six women were arrested and detained during a Mother's Day march in Zimbabwe on Saturday, Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), told IRIN. The women had been carrying out a symbolic street-sweeping in the country's second city of Bulawayo at the time of their arrest, "to sweep away the violence and torture of people, and to get our house in order," Williams said. The women also demanded fairer food prices.

A New Consciousness
May 11, 2003 – (The Hindu) Feminist activism is a vision for a safer, non-violent, non-militaristic world, based on respect for diversity and an egalitarian sharing of resources.

OMCT Expresses Concern at Violence Against Women in Brazil
May 7, 2003 – (OMCT Press Release) The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) expresses its concern regarding violence against women in Brazil at the 30th Session of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

U.S. Lawmakers Call For $45 Million To Protect Women, Children
May 6, 2003 – (UN Wire) U.S. lawmakers today introduced legislation calling for $45 million in new funds to protect women and children in war and armed conflict situations. The proposed legislation, the Women and Children in Armed Conflict Protection Act of 2003, would support initiatives to prevent, detect and respond to violence and exploitation against women and children in conflict areas.

World's Most Dangerous War Zones for Women and Children Cited in Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2003 Report
May 6, 2003 – (Save the Children) Responding to the brutal realities of modern warfare – and a new Save the Children report documenting the need to protect women and children caught in the crossfire of wars around the world – key members of Congress today called for legislation that would provide $45 million in new funds to protect women and children from the ravages of war.

For more 1325 news, click here.

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3. FEATURE ANALYSIS: House of Lords Addresses Iraqi Women' Participation

May 13, 2003, London, England

Below is the full transcript:

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government: What action they are taking to ensure that the terms of United Nations Resolution 1325 for broad participation of women in peace-building and post-conflict Iraq are being met.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the Government are fully committed to Resolution 1325. Our military on the ground and secondees in the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance—ORHA—are aware of their responsibilities under the resolution. My right honourable friend the Minister for Women has met and will continue to meet Iraqi women from a variety of different political and civic groups in this country. A gender expert from the Women and Equality Unit is being seconded to ORHA, and the new UK-funded TV channel in Iraq will shortly begin broadcasting programmes to encourage women to participate in civic and political life in Iraq.

Baroness Greengross: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that very full reply. In recognising the difficulty of meeting the demands of women while ensuring that Iraqis themselves determine their own future, will the conference that I believe is proposed be representative of all groups? In particular, will it include widows, whose numbers have greatly increased due to the Saddam regime and the recent conflict?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, that is a point very well taken. The statistics show an abnormal disproportion of women to men in Iraq. Statistics vary somewhat, but 55 per cent of the Iraqi population are women. We believe that that is due to the deaths of men during the Iran-Iraq war, and to killings, executions and disappearances. Of course, many women have also been subject to terrible atrocities. The noble Baroness is looking forward to the possibility of a conference in Iraq. We are looking at that. Our UK special representative, John Sawers, has emphasised the importance of women being an integral part of Iraq's political process. I assure the noble Baroness that we shall keep a very particular eye on what happens about widows.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that the people of Iraq have a right to decide their own future. Can the Minister clarify what would be the position of Her Majesty's Government if a regime—for example, a clerical regime—came to power and abused women's rights? How would the UK respond?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, that is an excellent question, and one that I have asked colleagues. I absolutely see the inherent dilemma of self-determination on one hand, and the possibility of such an outcome—it is very much not to be wished for—on the other. The answer is that human rights are fundamental rights, as recognised by the United Nations. We recognise women as having those rights as much as men, and we would expect any regime in Iraq to recognise the rights of women, too.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, would my noble friend agree that the participation of men is essential in bringing women into full political power in Iraq? What efforts have the Government made, and what efforts can they make, to sound out the key male players in the Iraqi political situation?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, of course it is important that men are part of the process.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am trying to work out why that was amusing. My colleague Mike O'Brien has twice raised the issue of women's representation, including at the central Iraq conference in Baghdad. Although there were 250 Iraqi participants at the conference, I very much regret to say that only six of them were women. If I may say so, the problem at the moment is not so much bringing men into the dialogue, but making sure that women are part of that dialogue as well.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, is there any intention to set up a gender sub-committee, as has been done in Sri Lanka following the ceasefire, to advise the negotiating process on gender issues? Does the Minister agree that there are plenty of women, both inside and outside Iraq, who could play a part in such a committee? Can she tell me how far the proposal for a women's tent meeting has got? It was put forward by the Iraqi Women for Peace and Democracy in this country, and its intention was to bring a lot of women together and begin the process of equipping them to take part in the discussions on the constitution, the rule of law and so on that lie ahead.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the meeting to which the noble Baroness refers is under active discussion, but I cannot give her any details about it at the moment. As we have already discussed, the security situation in Iraq does not permit that. However, I am sure that as soon as my right honourable friend the Minister for Women has anything to announce on the issue, she will do so. She is meeting a group of Iraqi women again in London tomorrow. As for setting up a sub-committee, the FCO Iraq policy unit has forwarded a gender equality policy brief to ORHA in Iraq, which explains the importance of working out detailed ways to promote the involvement of women in all aspects of the reconstruction of Iraq. I very much hope that the secondee that we are sending, who is an expert in the field, will also be able to add to the range of options that might be open for furthering the interests of women.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, despite the repression in the previous Iraqi regime, many women had access to education and healthcare and were able to play a part in public life? If some of the returning clerics have their way, those rights will disappear, and women could well face a Taliban-like regime. What is being done to prevent that, given that, as she rightly said, human rights are women's rights and vice versa?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the most effective way to deal with the matter is to continue to reiterate the point, again eloquently put by my noble friend, concerning the importance of women's rights being part of human rights. And, yes, my noble friend is right; Iraqi women score highest of all Arab women on the United Nation's measure of gender empowerment, largely because of their relatively high rate of political participation. It is true that women held almost one-fifth of the seats in the former Iraqi parliament, whereas the average in the Middle East is 3.5 per cent. However, in saying that, I do not believe that my noble friend should overlook the terrible human rights abuses which were also part and parcel of the Saddam regime; a regime which in 1990 declared that male relatives could kill a female relative in the name of honour without any punishment. Let us remember that although there was a certain amount of empowerment, there were also some terrible abuses of women.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the subject might well be worth discussing further with both the Turks and the Egyptians, as in both constitutions women are described as being equal to men?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, indeed, that is right. I am also aware that many other parts of the Arab world take a different view about women and human rights. We have some good examples, as we regard them, of the ways in which women are treated and some others which we would find more questionable. As the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, pointed out to the House, there is a real dilemma. We must face up to it when dealing with our friends in the Arab world about the ways in which they treat women. It is one which in my view we should not back away from and I believe that that is very much the view of the Government.

This statement can also be found in PeaceWomen's government resources

For a comprehensive annotated bibliography of books, articles and analyses on women's peace theory and activities, as well as NGO position papers, reports, speeches, statements and tools for organisational building. Please go to:

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4. FEATURE STATEMENT: Statement by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to the UN Security Council -The Implementation of and Strict Compliance with UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Case of Iraq

May 15, 2003

“Central to any transition process is the need to take account of the differential needs of women and men at all stages of rebuilding societies and the importance of concrete mechanisms to ensure that all people- women and men- enjoy freedoms and participate equally in rehabilitation and reconstruction.”
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------UN Secretary-General in his Study on Women, Peace and Security (2002)

Given that "major combat operations have ended in Iraq", and the US-led Coalition is now engaged in "securing and reconstructing Iraq", according to US President Bush,

Bearing in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the primary responsibility of the Security Council under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security,

Recognizing that women constitute at least 55 percent of the population of Iraq and that the 2002 Arab Human Development Report ranked Iraq highest according to the Gender Empowerment Measure (1995 data),

Given that at the first US-sponsored meeting in Nassiriya on April 15 to discuss the development of an interim government, only four out of 123 participants were women, and that these four were all from the diaspora and did not adequately represent women currently living in Iraq, and

Given that at a subsequent meeting in Baghdad on April 28, there were only three women, out of approximately 300 participants,

Given that no women are included in the exclusively male legal team of lawyers and judges appointed by the US-led Coalition to develop a new legal code,

Recognizing that the exclusion and under-representation of Iraqi women in decision-making processes and other aspects of the post-conflict period of rebuilding undermines the spirit and the letter of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the UN principles of equality,

Recalling the unanimous adoption of UNSC Resolution 1325, the mandate this Resolution provides and the role of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to monitor the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and to promote the participation of women and a gender perspective in peace and security, policymaking, conflict management and peace building initiatives of the United Nations

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security calls for:

I. Women in decision-making

The Security Council to ensure that women are involved in political, formal and informal decision-making processes and in any legal training that may be relevant for all women and men appointed to decision-making positions.

Democratically representative Iraqi women and Iraqi women's organizations to be fully involved and supported in all peace negotiations and their implementation, as called for in UNSC 1325. We urge the Security Council to ensure that women have parity with men at UN-supported national conferences and other national constitution and institution development bodies.

The Security Council to ensure that the development of the Constitution in Iraq centrally involves representative Iraqi women with legal expertise and that the constitution promotes women's human rights, gender equality and gender equity, as is consistent with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Iraq is party, and as is endorsed in article nine of UNSC Resolution 1325.

The Security Council to ensure women's equal participation in the creation of legislation, incorporation of the principle of equality of men and women in the legal system and abolition of discriminatory laws against women as is endorsed in CEDAW and in article nine of UNSC Resolution 1325.

II. UN Peacekeeping and Peace-building

A United Nations peace-building and peacekeeping mission to be deployed in Iraq to create an environment that facilitates the work of humanitarian organizations and promotes a fully representative Iraqi governing structure with regard to gender, ethnicity and religion.

The peacekeeping monitoring and protection components to have the appropriate capacity and special training on the provision of protection for women and girls, as called for in article six of UNSC Resolution 1325. We urge that all peacekeepers be sensitized to the grave reality of private and public gender-based violence, and work to prevent all violence against women and girls.

III. Protection of Women and Girls

The Security Council to ensure that all international humanitarian and human rights laws are implemented to protect the rights of women and girls in the post-conflict period, as required by UNSC Resolution 1325, and in this regard, to include a civilian human rights verification in the peacekeeping component of the mission to Iraq to monitor gender-based human rights violations, among other human rights violations.

The special needs of women and girls to be taken into account during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction, as called for in article eight of UNSC Resolution 1325.

Integral to this, we urge the Security Council to promote through the Mission "increase[d] awareness of the risk of domestic violence and other threats to the personal safety of women and girls in the post-conflict contexts and develop capacity to prevent and address such threats, including by training of all United Nations personnel and local police and military", as called for in the Secretary-General's recommendations in his study on Women, Peace and Security (2002).

IV. Security Sector Reform

The Security Council to mandate that disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes are implemented during the peacekeeping mission.

The Security Council to explicitly build into peace-building mandates support for the development of a gender-aware police, military and other operating security bodies, which are trained to monitor these issues.

V. Gender Justice

The Security Council to mandate appropriate authority to ensure that there is no impunity for gender-based crimes during and after conflict and to support indigenous community-based reconciliation initiatives that will allow women to seek justice. These commissions should not allow amnesty for perpetrators of violence and human right violators.

VI. Humanitarian Considerations

The Security Council to request that all UN humanitarian bodies working in the region maintain gender perspectives and include the protection of women and girls in all aspects of their work, including the distribution of food, water, refugee cards, medical supplies and other resources to women as heads of households; the consideration of the special needs of internally displaced and refugee women and girls; and the sensitivity to their needs, including reproductive and mental health of women and girls.

Women and girls to have full access to programs for education, health care, prevention and response to gender-based violence, housing, employment and related skills-training. We stress that these programs must reach women in disadvantaged rural areas, widows and women who are disabled, displaced or illiterate.

Therefore, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security recommends and supports your urgent attention to and action on the above.

For a comprehensive annotated bibliography of books, articles and analyses on women's peace theory and activities, as well as NGO position papers, reports, speeches, statements and tools for organisational building. Please go to:

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5. FEATURE RESOURCES: Recent Additions to PeaceWomen's Resources

A Message from the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice
April 2003
“It has been a busy and eventful five years since the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice was formed in 1997 to advocate for a gender perspective in the negotiations toward the International Criminal Court.”

Statement on Women's Rights and Freedoms in Iraq
Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition, March 2003, UK
“We are a group of Iraqi women who are extremely concerned about women's rights and freedom in Iraq. We have decided to set up this coalition due to the regime change in Iraq.”

African Women Struggle for a Seat at the Peace Table
Michael Fleshman, Africa Recovery, February 2003, UN DPI

For a comprehensive annotated bibliography of books, articles and analyses on women's peace theory and activities, as well as NGO position papers, reports, speeches, statements and tools for organisational building. Please go to:

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A Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil
May 19, 2003, 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm, Suva, Fiji
The National Council of Women Fiji in collaboration with the Women, Peace and Security Fiji Committee, supported by UNIFEM Pacific, have organized two "Blue Ribbon" Peace Vigils which will be “staged to enable women, as well as our NGO and civil society partners and members of the public to share some time in reflection and sharing on our roles as the guarantors for Peace. This initiative will also be open to the mainstream media, to enable greater access to women's viewpoints in relation to women, peace and security issues.” For more information, contact: Sharon Bhagwan Rolls (9244871), or Tabua Salato (9976771).

Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights: Panel and Discussion
May 21, 2003, 6:30-8:30pm, Jerome Green Hall, Columbia University School of Law, New York City
Organized by Amnesty International USA's Women's Human Rights Program and Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, in preparation for Amnesty's International Violence against Women Campaign - which will be launched in March 2004 - this panel will explore the ways that “multiple systems of oppression combine to make particular groups of women more vulnerable to violence, and will consider efforts we must undertake to ensure that the promise of human rights is fulfilled for all women and girls and for their communities.” For more information, contact: Zaynab Nawaz,, 212-633-4292.

Feminist Advocacy Training Programme: Call for Applications
September 14 – October 3, 2003, Bangalore, India
Applications due: June 14, 2003
The Development Alternatives With Women for a New Era (DAWN) Training Institute is designed for young feminist activists (25 +) from the economic South who are already engaged, or have a strong interest, in global advocacy work for gender justice, and who wish to sharpen their analytical capabilities and advocacy skills. The training programme will focus on four principal themes: Political Economy of Globalisation, Sustainable Livelihoods, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Political Restructuring and Social Transformation. For more information, visit:

For more calendar events please visit:

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This edition of the 1325 PeaceWomen E-News Features:

1. Initiatives to Address Women's Active Participation in Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Iraq: Reminder and Update
2. 1325 News
3. Feature Analysis: House of Lords Addresses Iraqi Women' Participation
4. Feature Statement: By the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to the UN Security Council - The Implementation of and Strict Compliance with UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Case of Iraq
5. Feature Resources: Recent Additions to PeaceWomen's Resources
6. Calendar Events