United Nations Resolution 1325, passed 10 years ago this week, recognises the devastating impact of conflict on women and states that women must be involved in building peace. Despite this historic resolution, women all over the world are today suffering violence, while being excluded from solutions to conflict.
In many conflicts, women experience extraordinary levels of brutality and distress. Sexual violence against women is used as a weapon for intimidation, humiliation, displacement and control. Often primary caregivers, women bear the brunt of destroyed hospitals, schools and farms. Widows often face extreme stigma and poverty.
Women must be central to peacebuilding efforts. As an agency working with women in the most unstable parts of the world, we know they have practical solutions to war and recommendations for peace.
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council members held a ministerial-level Open Debate on women, peace and security, where US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton declared: “Including women in peace work […] is not a ‘nice’ thing to do. It is a global security imperative” 1. Secretary Clinton also announced the US intention to develop a National Action Plan to advance their work on supporting and empowering women in conflict.
Unfortunately, the UK Foreign Secretary did not attend the Security Council Open Debate. Instead, the Rt. Hon. William Hague released a statement in which he assured UK support: “We reaffirm our commitment to work for the protection of women in armed conflict and for their active involvement in conflict resolution. […] We will work to ensure that more progress is made […] in the years ahead. […] Our new Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan will outline how UK efforts are actively protecting and supporting women to bring about peace in some of the most difficult environments including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Nepal” 2.
The UK government was influential in ensuring women, peace and security were placed on the global agenda and has showed interest in our work on women and conflict. However after 10 years, it must commit new energy and resources to address the issues faced by women in conflict.
In this crucial anniversary year, the No women, no peace. campaign, of which International Alert is an active member, is keeping pressure on the UK Government to keep their promise and put women at the heart of peacebuilding and their work in conflict-affected societies.
No Women No Peace is a campaign by GAPS, Gender Action for Peace and Security, a network of peace, human rights and development organisations.