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Inviting Us to the Table is Not Enough

March 13, 2018

For almost two years, the Spanish government worked on the adoption of the National Action Plan II on the Implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. WILPF Spain was invited as part of the Spanish civil society to participate in the conversations with the government and the drafting of the action plan. However, after many obstacles that prevented civil society participation from being meaningful, the result was a document that hardly included any recommendations suggested.

WILPF activists at a workshop during the 15th Anniversary of 1325. (© Cristel Taveras)

Written by Marta Bautista Forcada, WILPF Spain member 
22 October, 2017

The goal of demonstrating a committed image to gender equality internationally is the main reason why WILPF Spain, together with other Spanish civil society organisations (CSOs) working on gender and peace issues, were invited to negotiate the drafting of the National Action Plan (NAP) II on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) with the Spanish government. However, the government’s lack of political will to bring commitments into action was made clear when most CSOs’ recommendations were ignored in the final document.

By the end of July 2017, Spain approved its NAP II for the implementation of the WPS. During the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) in October 2015, Spain was presiding over the Security Council, and committed to maximise the WPS agenda through varied actions, including the adoption of a new NAP and the update of the original one, adopted eight years earlier in 2007. On 28 July 2017, the Spanish Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry (MAEC) published a press release announcing the approval of the new Spanish NAP. The document claimed that the action plan was the “result of a dialogue between Ministries and the participation of civil society organisations.”

As part of the Spanish civil society that work for the implementation of the WPS agenda, WILPF Spain participated in the dialogue referred to by the MAEC. However, the existence of such dialogue is only one part of the story. What this press release does not include is: (1) how challenging it was for some CSO members to physically attend the meetings, (2) how tough it was to meet the tight deadlines set by the MAEC, and (3) how the MAEC mostly omitted the civil society’s suggestions and recommendations that MAEC claimed they were looking for. Thus, though we participated as a civil society organisation in the drafting process of the Spanish NAP II, we were only used by the MAEC so that they could claim the process was inclusive.

As stakeholders, WILPF Spain and the other CSOs were called to a workshop in May 2016 to strategise on the NAP drafting. However, some of us could not attend the workshop because there was no financial support offered by the MAEC to those who had to travel to Madrid. If the government really wanted to be inclusive, it would have offered these resources to facilitate our attendance. Despite the obstacles, WILPF Spain sent a delegation of three members.

After the workshop, communication from government stopped for some months. We later learned that the government had a first draft for which we were never consulted. After months of waiting for news, WILPF Spain and the other participating CSOs were called for a meeting on July 4th, during which we were asked to submit our recommendations to the second draft by the 14th of that month. Not only this was not enough time for us to read the document carefully, make suggestions and use our expertise to improve it, but it was also not enough time for the MAEC to finalise the document and include our inputs by July 28th, the day the Spanish NAP II was approved.

In fact, when we reviewed the document, we noticed that so many of our meaningful recommendations were not included, such as the inclusion of a budget. An absence of an allocated budget makes the document weak and likely to remain as it is: writing on paper. By ignoring our inputs and making it difficult for us to participate in the process, the MAEC did not create an inclusive process in which civil society had a meaningful participation. This only served the purpose of the Spanish government, so they would be able to claim to the international community that civil society participated in the drafting process of the NAP II.

I cannot highlight enough the importance of political will for real and effective implementation of the NAP II on WPS. WILPF Spain knows that it is extremely important that we keep communicating with the government regarding the NAP, and that we keep advocating and demanding effective actions to implement the WPS agenda in Spain. Also, it is key for us to exchange views with women from other countries working in their communities on the WPS agenda so we may share good practices and design strategies amongst each other. This can help us build new strategies that allow us to make real impact in Spanish domestic and foreign policies.

WILPF Spain will continue working for the implementation of the WPS agenda in our country. We will keep fighting with perseverance and we will make the Spanish government understand the importance of listening to our voices and transforming words into action.

You can read PeaceWomen’s analysis of the Spanish government’s commitment to WPS, and find resources and information about the NAP. 

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