Editorial: Feminist Peace: By Women, For Women And For All
By WILPF Women Peace and Security Programme Director Abigail Ruane
Some of the participants of the December 2017 WILPF Africa Regional Conference in the DRC. (Photo Credit: Micheline Muzaneza)
Kiya* is a dynamic presence whose eyes flash and voice thunders when she speaks. I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of weeks back in Kinshasa, during WILPF’s 2017 African Regional Meeting and WILPF DRC 10th Anniversary High Level Event. There she shared how indomitable women in the conflict-torn region of North Kivu, despite all odds, are demanding action for peace that matters for women.
The dream of peace that works for women is sparking a flame across Africa and around the world. In Kinshasa, women leaders (and men allies) rejected the idea that peace can be by, for and about men. With sisters around the world, they rejected the patriarchal power that relies on violence to contain conflict, they rejected any power that pits women against men, rich against poor, one ethnic group against another. Women imagined the possibility of peace that was not just about the absence of armed conflict, but about the presence of justice and the eradication all forms of violence, including violence against women and sexual and gender-based violence.
In Kinshasa, I listened to the stories of how women peace leaders, supported by men, are working together towards a different world. Sisters from the DRC to Ghana to South Africa shared their work for feminist peace, where women are at the table and their needs are met, before and after the war. These women affirmed that advancing feminist peace means recognising that we live in a patriarchal society, building awareness of this, as well as changing laws, norms and attitudes to uphold women’s rights as human rights. Advancing feminist peace means creating a world where people in the Eastern DRC and elsewhere no longer suffer and weep because weapons from other countries are not used anymore. It means creating peace and non-violence in the home, as well as creating peace and justice in the world.
Feminist peace starts with the idea that another world is possible; with women recognising their own power for non-violence and justice; and then creating change by acting in solidarity together in order to build a world of participation and justice. It is creating peace within individuals, within partners, within families, within communities and within the world.
In the DRC, women are dreaming of a world where WILPF’s disarmament staff no longer has a job because arms proliferation has ended. In South Africa, women are dreaming of a world where men support women’s leadership and are partners in promoting women’s work for disarmament, women’s rights and peace. So, too, in Colombia, women are dreaming of living in a country that has not just disarmed the FARC-EP, but disarmed the society as a whole.
It is easy to become discouraged. Many times, we do this work in the shadows. But we are powerful when we work together.
As we end the year 2017 and look forward to 2018, we encourage you to resist and persist!
Another world is possible. Women have the vision, the determination and the perseverance, and with our global sisterhood, we have the power to create feminist peace: peace by women, for women and for all.
* (Pseudonym, not a real name, used for her security)
By Marina Kumskova, Women, Peace and Security Programme Associate, and Ines Boussebaa, Research and Communications Fellow
Some of the participants of the WILPF’s Geneva Convening. (Photo: Irina Popa)
In 2017, WILPF amplified the voices of grassroots women peace activists and called for concrete action on sustaining feminist peace through women’s meaningful participation, especially around the key gap areas of conflict prevention, disarmament and gender analysis.
WILPF funded UNSCR 1325 localisation initiatives in Colombia, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which increased women’s political participation and strengthened local accountability frameworks for action. WILPF Women, Peace and Security Director Abigail Ruane also participated in the October 2017 launch of WILPF Colombia’s gender and disarmament report in Bogota and Villavicencio, as well as the December 2017 WILPF Africa Regional Meeting in Kinshasa, which supported feminist peace mobilising and built political will on creating enabling environments for women’s meaningful participation through arms regulation and women’s economic empowerment.
WILPF also organised and supported a variety of initiatives focused on mobilising for non-violent action for feminist peace throughout the year. In January, we facilitated a civil society speaker from WILPF Nigeria at the High-Level Dialogue on Building Sustaining Peace for All; and in November, we contributed to a joint Friends of UNSCR 1325 and Friends of Sustaining Peace dialogue. We called for action on sustaining peace that works for women by pushing the United Nations (UN) to promote consistent gender analysis across the UN system, ensuring women civil society’s meaningful participation and providing effective Women, Peace and Security financing.
Due to the exclusionary impact of the United States travel ban on the voices and lives of women from conflict-affected settings, we decided to not formally engage in the 61st Commission on the Status of Women. Instead, WILPF gathered more than 150 women's rights and peace activists from around the world in April 2017 to discuss how to make the UN more inclusive and make women count within the UN system. At the convening, women called for a paradigm shift in the approach taken to peacebuilding that ensures women’s meaningful participation. This requires supporting bottom-up rather than top-down work, which ensures local women speak for themselves (rather than be spoken for) in a way that addresses women’s human rights and root causes of conflict with impact.
During the 2017 High-Level Political Forum, we worked with our coalition to strengthen a conflict lens on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which makes the SDGs work for women in conflict situations, including through our #WomenLead2030 outreach campaign. We facilitated participation of activists from Sweden and India, including through a side-event and webinar. WILPF highlighted how the SDG implementation must ensure policy coherence with Women, Peace and Security commitments and support women human rights defenders and peace activists.
At the 17th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, WILPF facilitated a delegation of women peace leaders from Bosnia, Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Libya, Nigeria, Palestine and Spain, who joined activists from around the world to mobilise and demand accountability on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Activists shared recommendations around working towards feminist peace in their local contexts and called for concrete action to ensure women’s meaningful participation. They exchanged experiences with each other on building a stronger feminist movement for peace, human security and gender justice. Together, we demanded a transformation of top-down, exclusive and militarised processes towards bottom-up, inclusive and gender-aware action.
We are looking forward to 2018 and its upcoming opportunities to strengthen local action for feminist and sustainable peace.
Read WILPF’s full analysis of the High-Level Dialogue on Building Sustainable Peace For All here>>
Find more information about WILPF’s engagement at the 61st Session of the Commision on the Status of Women here>>
Read more about WILPF’s “Reclaiming the United Nations as a Peace Organisation” convening here>>
Find more information about WILPF’s engagement at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum here>>
Find more information about WILPF’s engagement at the 17th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 here>>
Read the Summary of the “Sustaining Peace and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Strengthening Synergies for Action” Dialogue here>>
By Anne Lescure, United Nations Security Council Monitor Fellow
Charo Mina-Rojas, a member of the human rights team of the Black Communities’ Process, the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network, the Black Alliance for Peace, and the Special High Level Body for Ethnic Peoples, addresses the Security Council’s open debate on Women, Peace and Security (Photo: NGO Working Group on WPS).
In 2017, the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda demonstrated strong accomplishments, as well as ongoing challenges. The Council added a gender perspective into the mandate of United Nations Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), provided some space for women-led civil society and women peace activists in its work and renewed its commitment to conflict prevention. At the same time, effective action across the conflict cycle was limited due to the budgetary cuts to gender functions in UN peacekeeping missions, Permanent Members’ ongoing political use of their veto and increased focus on women’s participation in the military and defense industry.
To strengthen accountability for holistic action, in 2017 WILPF monitored and analysed 19 open debates, over 55 resolutions and nearly 40 reports submitted by the UN Secretary-General to the Council. We also updated the WPS Commitments database, which observed October 2015 WPS commitments up to 2017, and launched the Security Council WPS Scorecard research brief to highlight the main gaps in the WPS implementation efforts, including gender power analysis, disarmament and financing.
Our strategic and transparent monitoring showed the need for the Council to shift priorities away from its current militarised vision towards gendered conflict prevention and feminist peace, through consistent gender power analysis, women’s meaningful participation, comprehensive services and access to justice. This change would result in the Security Council listening and using information to better understand the root causes of conflict, the possibilities for change and the policies needed to achieve it. Human rights and peace activists would get support and protection. Military budgets would decrease. Women civil society would be valued and invested in.
Further action that builds on and strengthens Sweden’s “feminist foreign policy” is needed. Now is the time to find out how we can collectively advance the Feminist Agenda in the Security Council!
Find more information about WILPF’s Security Council Monitoring Work here>>
Find WILPF’s analysis of the Arria Formula Meeting entitled “Increasing the Participation of Women in Global Conflict Prevention and Mediation” here>>
Find more information about the United Nations Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security here>>
Find more information about the United Nations Security Council open debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict here>>
Find the Record of the Informal Expert Group meetings here>>
Find WILPF’s Security Council Scorecard on Women, Peace and Security here>
By Anwar Mhajne, United Nations Monitor Fellow, and Alexandra Rojas, Knowledge Development Fellow
Joy Onyesoh speaks at the the High-Level Dialogue on building sustainable peace for all (Photo: Abigail Ruane/ WILPF)
In 2017, WILPF welcomed the new focus on conflict prevention and gender parity as key priorities by the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. These priorities support WILPF’s longstanding call for strengthened conflict prevention and an integrated approach that promotes women’s human security over militarised state security. As part of our work to strengthen accountability on holistic action, WILPF engaged in advocacy and monitoring around key areas related to Women, Peace and Security across the UN system.
At the March 2017 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), WILPF shared an open letter to ambassadors in New York and Geneva and worked with our grassroots network and partners to raise awareness of #MissingVoices at the CSW61. Due to these and many other civil society efforts, the final Agreed Conclusions outcome document addressed meaningful participation of women in decision-making as a key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.
At the July 2017 High-Level Political Forum, WILPF’s analysis of gender, militarism and conflict issues with our coalition the Women’s Major Group, including through a coalition briefing paper, contributed to a Ministerial Declaration that affirmed the need to redouble efforts to resolve and prevent conflict by ensuring women's role in peacebuilding. However, our analysis showed that only 11% of reporting states recognised extraterritorial obligations for realising gender equality (SDG 5). It also amplified the ways in which arms transfers violate international commitments, including on health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4) and housing (SDG 11). As such, our analysis demonstrated that urgent action is needed to prevent “business as usual” and ensure the transformative potential of the SDGs.
At the September 2017 UN General Assembly (UNGA72), WILPF monitored its General Debate for the references to gender, disarmament, conflict prevention and WILPF focus countries. WILPF analysis highlighted how narrow and vague commitments by Member States on gender equality and demilitarised security pose ongoing challenges to creating feminist peace that works for women. It also highlighted how women civil society leaders in the feminist pacifist movement continue to provide vision and action needed for transformative change, as recognised by the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which WILPF is a steering committee member, for realising the 2017 world’s first legally binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
Moving forward, we hope to see UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, further enhance his leadership on advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda through strengthened action on gender equality, disarmament and feminist peace.
Find WILPF’s analysis of the SDG Financing Lab here>>
Find more information about WILPF’s engagement at the 61st Session of the Commision on the Status of Women here>>
Read more about WILPF’s #MissingVoices campaign here>>
Read more information about WILPF’s engagement at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum here>>
Read more about WILPF’s #WomenLead2030 campaign here>>
Read WILPF’s UNGA72 Gender Index here>>
Read WILPF’s full analysis of the High-Level Event on the Culture of Peace here>>
Read WILPF’s official statement on ICAN receiving the Nobel Peace Prize here>>
By Anwar Mhajne, United Nations Monitor Fellow
72 National Action Plans developed and launched by UN Member States for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 as of December 2017. (Visual: WILPF)
In 2017, Member States continued to demonstrate their renewed commitment to the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, while several attempted to combine this Agenda with a more general gender policy framework.
As 2017 comes to its end, WILPF analysis shows that 72 UN Member States (38% of all UN Member States) have UNSCR 1325 National Action Plans (NAPs). Eight new NAPs were launched in 2017, including Czech Republic, Montenegro, Brazil, Palestine, Solomon Islands, Cameroon, Guatemala and El Salvador. In addition, six countries updated their previous National Action Plans, including Germany, Serbia, Nigeria, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.
Despite this progress, of the 72 NAPs adopted to date, only 17 (23%) include some allocated budget for implementation. Furthermore, only 22 of 72 existing NAPs (30%) include references to disarmament and provide specific actions to disarm society and control the illicit trade of small arms. Despite some of the countries’ recent history of conflict or involvement in military intervention and arms trade, there is insufficient analysis and consideration of the connection between disarmament, gender equality and violence.
Civil society has always been essential in developing effective and balanced NAPs. However, when it comes to drafting, implementation, evaluation and monitoring NAPs, civil society’s level of engagement and roles vary. To date, only 44 NAPs (61%) allocate a specific role to civil society on different stages of the NAP implementation process. The work of WILPF Cameroon provides a strong example of the importance of civil society leadership in the NAP development and related work on gender equality and peace: with support from WILPF's Women, Peace and Security Programme over the past few years, WILPF Cameroon has taken the initiative to propose the creation of a NAP, and this year successfully launched a NAP for Cameroon!
Moving forward, it is important for Member States to ensure that they create dedicated spaces for civil society to help develop and implement NAPs, while providing holistic and well sourced funds with clear leadership and accountability for implementation.
Find WILPF’s database of the National and Regional Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security here>
WILPF INITIATIVES: 2017 HIGHLIGHTS
RESOURCES: 2017 HIGHLIGHTS
EXTERNAL INITIATIVES: 2017 HIGHLIGHTS