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.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment have long been recognized in the international community as key factors in building sustainable peace and security. Despite the development of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325) and subsequent resolutions meant to integrate a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations, representation and participation of women in the armed forces has not changed significantly. Senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officer Jennifer Wittwer’s article notes that a holistic approach to gender parity is critical to the maximization of “our capacity to sustain peace and security.” Read more here.
Elisabeth Buchan’s article discusses two key reasons why disaster relief should be treated as a Women, Peace and Security (WPS) issue. First, the disruption caused by natural disasters is equal to that of armed conflict; thus, security issues facing women within these two situations—such as threats to women’s health and an increase in sexual violence—overlap. Second, a growing movement towards a gendered approach to disaster relief has already begun to guide policy. Buchan notes the benefits of the incorporation of WPS into disaster relief as evidenced by Operation Fiji Assist. To read the full article, click here.
Despite resistance to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, Australia has made positive progress through the continued integration of the Agenda into military operations. As author Jenny Lee of the Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) discusses, the sharing—both domestically and internationally—of Australia’s experiences helps to conceptualize the implementation of the Agenda in various social and cultural contexts. To read more, click here.