It is with a bittersweet sense that I welcome the new year.
2015 is a year rich in memories, hopes, and dreams. This year we commemorate many milestones: the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the 15th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, also the 15th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the 100th anniversary of our own Women's International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
Yet these gains are bittersweet: We have not ended war, as the women demanded 100 years ago. Violent attacks in Nigeria, Lebanon, and Paris are just the most recent violence rending our minds and hearts. Women continue to remain too often excluded from the peace table and gender considerations ignored in security sector reform. Countries and non-state actors continue to invest in the military industrial complex, violence and war, and inadequately prioritize and finance gender equality, equitable social development and peace remains.
Within this context of peace hoped for but not yet fully seen, how can we make sure that this year is not just about memory making? How can we build on these milestones for leveraging meaningful peace and gender justice?
A common thread to the milestones that we will be commemorating this year is vision: not just vague hope of a better future, not just a realistic plan with no ties to hope for a better world - but vision: the imagination of a better world alongside a practical roadmap to creating it from where we are today. One hundred years ago, women envisioned the bones of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 at the Hague, and began the work to leveraging international institutions for changing fundamental understandings of what peace and security mean. Twenty years ago, the UN women's conferences (1975-1995) culminated at Beijing in a visionary policy statement outlining how equality, development, and peace based in women's human rights must be translated. Fifteen years ago, women civil society pushed the highest security forum in the world to acknowledge how gender is central to international peace and security and recognize the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.
Today, as we stand on the brink of the next 100 years of women's peace activism and the creation of the next development agenda, it is worthwhile to commemorate the accomplishments of women peace leaders worldwide: it is through this effort that we have seen a change in norms and expectations about gender, peace and security over the last century. However, we must go beyond this. We must be self-critical about the hype around the milestones, and take active steps to not just get caught up in the memories, but to take the next step and leverage these milestones toward action on translating commitments to accomplishments.
Women peace activists around the world gathered in the Hague and created a vision and plan for ending war through disarmament and women's equal participation and rights. Today it is our turn. WILPF invites you to join us this year in using this time of commemorations for action, and continuing to build solidarity to prevent conflict and build peace through a world of disarmament, gender justice, and women's human rights.
This edition of E-News features the latest from the Security Council Monitor, the Women's Major Group Response to the Secretary General's Synthesis report, our countdown to our new website launch on February 9th, and an amazing video from PeaceWomen Director Maria Butler on what it means to be a women peace leader. Read and share widely!
Written by Madhuri Sastry
2015 is here, which means we are quickly approaching our centennial celebrations! On January 18th, WILPF is marking the 100th day before our 100th anniversary.
Head over to www.womenstopwar.org for all the information and details.
Don't forget to register for the Anniversary Conference, kicking off in the Hague on the 28th of April. If you register on the 18th of January, you can get a 100 Euro discount! But hurry because the discount is available on the 18th only! This day will also reveal the winners of the WSW Poster Competition, so stay tuned.
We look forward to seeing you in the Hague!
Written by Zainab Alam
On 19 December 2014, in an all-day debate on Threats to International Peace and Security: Terrorism and Cross-Border Crime, the Security Council called upon the international community to act to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organized crime, through securing borders and prosecuting illicit networks. There were 51 speakers in this debate, and a Presidential Statement was adopted (S/RES/2195) which emphasized that international justice systems need to work harder to prevent the funding of terrorist groups through illicit means.
Only 10 out of the 51 speakers who briefed the debate included gendered language in their statements, although the adopted Presidential Statement reaffirmed “the need to increase attention to women, peace and security issues in all relevant thematic areas of work on its agenda, including in threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and noting the importance of incorporating the participation of women and youth in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism.” Of these 10 speakers, 8 speakers mentioned women in a victim framework noting the importance of protecting women from violent conflict and trafficking, 3 speakers highlighted the importance of preventing sexual violence and 1 speaker, the ambassador of Sweden, mentioned the protection of women's human rights. All speakers noted that more efforts need to be made to prevent funding for terrorist groups, but none of the speakers expressed concern for the effect of such funding and increased militarization on women. Clearly, more effort needs to be made in order to have impactful implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda throughout all of the Security Council discussions.
Under-Secretary General and Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), Jeffrey Feltman was the first to brief the debate. UN Photo.
Read full analysis here.
Written by Joann Lee
On 4 December 2014, the UN Secretary-General Synthesis Report on the post-2015 development agenda was released, which aimed to pull together input from all strands on post-2015. Although the Report affirms the 17 goals proposed by the General Assembly Open Working Group—including gender equality and peaceful societies—it frames them within the context of six “essential elements” that promote regressive standards in relation to existing international commitments by further weakening Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) issues such as gender, militarization, and conflict and diluting the overarching human rights framework. Overall, the consideration of peace and conflict in the Report is far from transformative as it fails to recognize the intricate connection of militarism with gender inequality and violence. The promotion of a violence prevention approach is necessary to address the major gap in the Millennium Development Goals on peace. Therefore, for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be truly transformative and ensure sustainable development, demilitarization, disarmament, and an integrated approach of gender issues and security reform are imperative.
UN Photo/Patricia Esteve
As negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda enter their final stage, member states must ensure a progressive, holistic approach: security reform processes must include gender-expertise planning and women's greater participation in decision making at all levels in peacebuilding, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, reconstruction and in the delivery of justice; strong financing requires that military spending be reduced and redirected to gender-equitable social spending; effective monitoring and implementation entails linking SDG reviews to existing human rights, disarmament and WPS agenda reporting mechanisms such as CEDAW, UPRs, WPS global reviews, and the Arms Trade Treaty; and true equality and development necessitates a human-rights based approach that strengthens existing human rights commitments, such as the Resolution on Women Human Rights Defenders, and identifies and addresses root causes of gender inequality. Therefore, we call upon member states and stakeholders to promote discussions to ensure true transformation and development during the upcoming negotiations in 2015, including UN PGA High-Level Thematic Debate in February, the Beijing+20 / Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March, the post-2015 negotiation sessions in March – May, the Intergovernmental negotiations in June – July, and the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in July.
As we begin the countdown for our new website launch, we will be sharing a new video of Women Peace Leaders from around the world each week.
This week, our amazing PeaceWomen Director, Maria Butler, shares what it means to be a women peace leader in this short video clip.
Watch Maria's video here and stay tuned for more stories from these inspirational women!