The power and potential that women can have as peacebuilders was underlined this month when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni pro-democracy figure Tawakul Karman. All three women have made great contributions to peace and demonstrated the power that women can have to change their societies. However, the announcement was followed by a brutal attack on women’s groups in Yemen that were peacefully celebrating the win of Tawakul Karman – an attack which highlights and reminds us all of the struggle for rights in Yemen and elsewhere.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize exemplifies the great potential for peace and democracy that women represent. In Afghanistan, for example, women are still largely unable to reach that potential, despite this month marking the 10th anniversary of the US and UK military intervention in the country with a stated aim of improving the lives of Afghan women. While Afghan women have gained more rights in terms of education, employment and increased freedom of movement outside their homes, they have been excluded from participation in the peace process and still face discrimination and violence. A decade on from the military intervention, the country is still considered to be one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.
Eleven years have also passed this month since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which recognises the unique impact of conflict on women and the need for their inclusion in peacebuilding. A lack of concrete action to fully implement the resolution has resulted in the exclusion of women in the development of peace and post-conflict reconstruction. In response to this, International Alert together with UN Women published a review of the implementation of Resolution 1325 (now available on our website). Planning for Action on Women and Peace and Security focuses on how Resolution 1325 can be implemented at the national level. The review is aimed to support and advance the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of more and stronger Women, Peace and Security action plans that will turn Resolution 1325 into practice in order to improve the situation of women affected by conflict.
In order to show solidarity with Afghan women's rights activists, groups in the UK and all over the world held candlelit vigils on 31st October to mark the 11th anniversary of the signing of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The London candlelit vigil took place in Trafalgar Square on 31st October. More information on this and other vigils is available on the No women, no peace campaign website.
No women, no peace is a campaign by Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS UK), a network of peace, human rights and development organisations of which Alert is a founding member. We continue to work with GAPS to support UK and international advocacy and campaigning on women, peace and security, and we enthusiastically support the No women, no peace campaign.
You can't build peace by leaving half of the people out.