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Highlights from the UNSCR1325+18 week: Dismantling Patriarchy and Ensuring Women’s Meaningful Participation

November 7, 2018

 

Participants of WILPF’s Internal Workshop titled, “Feminist Peace Dialogue: Tackling Root Causes for Women’s Meaningful Participation” on 22 October 2018 (Visual: Nathaniel Hamlin)

 

In October 2018, ​United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325)​ celebrated its 18th Birthday!

As a product of long-term advocacy and push from civil society, UNSCR1325, along with seven subsequent Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions, affirms the Security Council’s responsibility and commitment to strengthening women’s participation, protection and rights across the conflict spectrum.

The UNSCR1325+18 week brought together women from all over the world to New York to discuss progress made and remaining challenges to the implementation of the WPS Agenda.

WILPF at the UNSCR1325+18 week

On the occasion, WILPF facilitated engagement from our global activist network with peace leaders from Colombia, Cameroon, Lebanon, Spain and Syria and supported a variety of events, meetings, and discussions across the week around meaningful participation and its link to disarmament, elections, humanitarian work, peace processes and feminist peace movement-building.

Panellists and organisers of the event titled, “Political Movements and Electoral Processes: Strengthening Women’s Meaningful Participation in Formal and Informal Spaces” (Visual: Nathaniel Hamlin)

 

WILPF took on a leadership role in mobilising with our coalitions to create community spaces for strategic discussions and build synergies for action across WPS week. As part of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, WILPF worked with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UN Women to design and facilitate the Tuesday 23 October Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Women, Peace and Security. Building on this conversation, on 26 October, WILPF worked with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to hold a Civil Society 2020 planning session. WILPF also facilitated and co-facilitated many bilateral meetings, discussions and sponsored and cosponsored events.

Our engagement contributed to a significant shift in the discourse across the week: rather than the typical tokenistic references to “women as victims but also agents of change”, discussions highlighted systems of patriarchy and economic institutions for war, brought up the critical importance of not just changing the face of leadership by adding women, but tackling the tough challenges of gender inequality by changing political, economic and social systems from violence to equality and justice.

Read the summaries and highlights from WILPF-supported events below:

WPS Debate and Advocacy

Randa Siniora Atallah, General Director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling in Jerusalem, addresses the Security Council meeting on women and peace and security. (Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

 

On 25 October, the Security Council debate on WPS was convened under the Presidency of Bolivia. The debate built on the 2018 Secretary-General’s report on WPS, which for the first time had a thematic focus on women’s meaningful participation, as well as an Expert Group Meeting on women’s meaningful participation earlier in 2018. All three also built on WILPF’s calls in our 2017 Geneva Convening on Strengthening Women’s Meaningful Participation at the UN to move from top down to bottom up action, and design work for peace based on local women’s leadership for rights and justice

This year’s debate was historic for having a woman peace activist from Palestine officially brief the Security Council. Randa Siniora, General Director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling in Jerusalem, spoke on the experiences of women in Palestine. “The Israeli occupation and the resulting humanitarian crisis are deeply gendered and exacerbate existing gender inequalities,” stated Ms. Siniora, noting the disproportionate and therefore gendered effects of violence, lack of access to resources and funding cuts of UNRWA to women in Palestine.

As a whole, the debate included powerful statements addressed masculinities and patriarchy, economic resilience and access to resources, and root causes. In addition, statements made by representatives alluded to the progress and positive steps undertaken by Member States in the implementation of the WPS Agenda, such as the improving the inclusion of more civil society briefers to the Security Council, supporting the creation of regional mediation networks, and implementing the work of the Informal Expert Group on WPS (IEG). Many representatives praised civil society inclusion as progress for women’s meaningful participation. Furthermore, the representatives of Norway and Switzerland recognised WILPF for its work on the WPS Agenda.

MISSING VOICES

This year, a number of women peace activists were unable to attend the UNSCR1325+18 week due to the discriminatory impact of the US Travel Ban, including WILPF partners from Yemen and Libya. WILPF continued to bring attention to women’s #MissingVoices and call for the UN to reclaim its Charter and become the peace organisation it was intended to be by ensuring women’s access and meaningful participation for peace.

WILPF appreciates the statements by six speakers at the Security Council debate which acknowledged the importance of encouraging and supporting civil society action on the ground. However, more action is needed. The US must urgently overturn its discriminatory travel ban. If it does not, the UN needs to have a serious conversation about what measures it will put in place to ensure local women’s participation on peace and security issues, or it will not be doing its job.

Next Steps

The conversations during the UNSCR1325+18 week have demonstrated that adding women is just a first step. Meaningful participation requires holistic and effective action that amplifying experiences of women and women’s groups and putting them at the centre of peace work.

As we prepare for 2020, the international community must put local women’s voices for feminist peace at the center of their work, and move from commitments to concrete implementation for accountability.

Join us in demanding that the international community steps up by

Read the full version of the UNSCR1325+18 analysis here>>>!

 

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