Women needed in peace processes

“The systematic violence against women as a war strategy reflects a general culture of violence,” says Dóra Árnosdóttir, Icelandic journalist and moderator of a Nordic discussion on peace and security.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 – Women, Peace and Security – has been followed by a number of other resolutions that raise the gender issue in relation to conflict management. Despite these documents, women are still excluded from formal peace negotations and decision-making processes. Why is it so difficult to implement a gender perspective in conflict management?

As long as don’t ‘walk the talk’, the change won’t take place,” says Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Regional Director for UN Women iin Europe and Central Asia. She says that legislation, policies and rhetoric are in place, but are not implemented. Gísladóttir urges civil society, media and trade unions to put pressure on the organisations involved to take responsibility and involve women more.

“Women’s leadership is an unutilised resource in peace processes,” she says.

Research shows that women only participate in 8 percent of all peace negotiations today. Torunn Tryggestad, researcher and project manager at the Norwegian Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO, says that the figure may be even lower depending on how we define participation.

Tarja Cronberg, Finnish EU MP representing the Green Party, says that women should have a key role for a number of reasons. Women are usually the first to see a forthcoming conflict, for example in the form of growing militarisation and sexual violence. They should be made key figures in security and conflict situations.

However, there has not been a complete standstill since Resolution 1325 was adopted in 2000. The speakers had seen some progress and felt that change was on the way. On example is that, in 2000, no-one had ever been convicted of sexual violence in conflict whereas, now, around 80 people have been convicted. That can seem to be a very modest result in the light of reports of very widespread use of sexual violence in conflicts, such as DRC Congo, but it is at least a step in the right direction. PRIO has identified the importance of men also taking initiative for gender equality in security and peace work, and men are now being educated in gender perspectives. Torunn Tryggestad argues that women’s participation in peace processes is the absolute top priority.

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