As a predominant method of ending violent conflict, peace agreements have a significant impact on women’s lives. Christine Bell studies peace agreements drafted between 1990 and 2015 and produces data on when women have been specifically mentioned in these agreements. The data shows that while there has been an increase in the number of peace agreements that reference women and gender since United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security was created in 2000, very few of these agreements “provide evidence of a robust ‘gender perspective’ having been adopted.” Bell discusses the implications of this as well as other findings and provides recommendations for making progress on UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions. Read the full article here.
This study examines the execution of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, as well as barriers to and priorities for its future implementation. Since it was passed in 2000, Resolution 1325 has contributed to the creation of additional protections for women in conflict, an increase in peace agreements that specifically reference women, and growth in the number of women in senior leadership at the UN. However, many of the improvements have been insufficient to address both ongoing needs and new threats to women’s rights. Detailed recommendations are provided for numerous issues, and a set of principles are proposed to guide global efforts toward continued implementation of the resolution. The study concludes with a call to view all these efforts through the lens of women in specific conflicts, and for the UN to take the lead in promoting global peace. Read the full article here.
Though indigenous women have successfully engaged in and made notable contributions to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, there remain areas in which their enhanced involvement is central. This UN Women research brief discusses two of these areas: justice for conflict-related violence, and the role of natural resources in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Indigenous women’s involvement in reparation initiatives for gender- and sexual-based violence in conflict settings has proven successful, but enhancing their engagement is needed to maximize these efforts. Additionally, indigenous women should no longer be excluded from decision-making processes around natural resources in conflict-affected settings since they are key actors in securing these resources for their communities. Read the full article here.
This article by Marie-Christine Heinze and Marwa Baabad draws from interview-based research by the Yemen Polling Center, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, and Saferworld to discuss the impact of conflict on women and the roles of women in conflict and peacebuilding in two regions of Yemen—Aden and Ibb. This research identifies common, general concerns in both regions with regard to the impact of conflict on women and families, including deleterious economic impacts, increased isolation of women, health consequences, and increased proliferation of arms. Additionally, women play a significant role in peacebuilding efforts in both areas. While generalities exist, it is important to remember that the relationship between women, conflict and peacebuilding is unique to each locale. As such, local, national and international institutions need to build on all women’s contributions to peacebuilding initiatives—even those that seem insignificant—in order to maximize the efficacy of these efforts. Read the full article here.
2013 protests against the Ukrainian government brought forth a new social awareness of women’s roles in conflict and peacekeeping initiatives that challenged the country’s historically patriarchal culture. This U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Policy Brief—“Building Gender Equality in Ukraine”—discusses how this shift in views on gender equality impacted the development of Ukraine’s first National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS, as well as the plan’s strengths and challenges. As a result, Ukraine’s national government has adopted international conventions on gender equality and elevated women to powerful governmental positions. Still, several factors—including insufficient data to track the progress of gender equality initiatives, and devolution to local governments that have neither the resources nor the interest in the NAP’s implementation—undermine these national efforts. Recommendations for the U.S. and international community to bolster the implementation of Ukraine’s NAP include funding for data collection on critical gender issues, and development of programs and humanitarian relief efforts that incorporate a gender equality framework. Read the full brief here.
In this policy brief, Dr. Louise Olsson examines ways in which senior leadership in United Nations peacekeeping operations can better implement their directive to mainstream promotion of gender equality. Senior management must help their teams consider gender in the interpretation of their peacekeeping mandate and move to incorporate gender-sensitive approaches into concrete documentation and tasks. Several context-specific examples are included to demonstrate how this may be accomplished. Finally, the Policy Brief considers the need for organizational capacity to implement relevant policies, the importance of national ownership and consultation of local women—both leaders and women’s groups—and how leadership can better use senior gender advisors and other expert support in their mission. Read the full article here.
A Gender Advisor in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Colonel Amanda Fielding discusses the ways in which Women, Peace and Security (WPS) can be met with less resistance and, therefore, most effectively implemented in military operations. WPS is “not just about equity, but capability” suggesting that the proper integration of women into military operations, such as the Afghan National Defense Security Forces, can enhance operational capabilities. Interestingly, —and despite concerns from WPS-purists—Fielding suggests a twist on the agenda, advocating for replacing the term “WPS” with “gender.” Recognizing the significance of culturally and socially defined roles of women and men may actually bolster policymakers’ acknowledgment of women’s issues and roles in conflict. Read more here.
As Australia’s first National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) draws nearer to its 2018 expiration, Lisa Sharland’s article discusses the future of the Plan by noting its weaknesses as well as the challenges it faces. Some of the weaknesses include inadequate means to measure progress, uneven funding and resource allocations and the changing nature of conflict and instability in the five years since the plan’s adoption. In terms of challenges, Sharland points out that continuing criticism from the Australian Defence Force and inattention by the United Nations “suggest that efforts to progress WPS will need to remain on the defensive over coming years.” Read the full article here.
Despite notable efforts to promote the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325), author Leanne Smith notes a continued general lack of understanding about the value of a gender perspective in peacekeeping. Smith attributes this to the lack of senior leadership support, as well as the structural set-up of gender advisers within missions. In terms of the latter, new measures are being put in place in order to combat hindrances such as high turnover rates and an under-resourced Gender Unit at the United Nations headquarters. Read about the new plans here.
In Brendan Nicholson’s article, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell of the Australian Army discusses the value of deploying male and female soldiers together into local communities in conflict zones, especially communities in which culture forbids women from talking to unrelated males. The deliberate deployment of female soldiers in these areas has helped forces to more substantially engage with the civilian population. In early 2013, Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) female combat-exclusion rules were eliminated, thus making it easier to include female soldiers in all operations. Still, Nicholson notes that given the nature of conflict even prior to 2013, anywhere can become the ‘front lines’ at any time. Read the full article here.