On 13 October 2015, the United Nations Security Council celebrated an historical anniversary session: 15 years ago that day, the first resolution recognising that women’s participation and perspectives were essential to peacebuilding (UNSCR 1325) was adopted.
To mark the occasion and advocate for the effective participation of women in peacebuilding initiatives, a delegation of three Congolese women's rights activists visited New York to launch a pioneering 'gender audit' of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The women were supported by representatives of International Alert's DRC team, together with the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, who co-commissioned the gender audit with Alert. The event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations.
The audit shows that gender perspectives were not only missing from the framework, but that women lacked any formal representation in the drafting process and were not fully recognised as implementers. A set of recommendations on how civil society and women's organisations could be better involved in the monitoring and implementation of the PSCF, as well as how women's participation could be guaranteed in future peace processes, were also discussed among the engaged audience. In addition, the findings of the report were presented at different smaller meetings with key institutions, including the UN's Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), including civil affairs.
The trip was also an occasion for Alert and its Congolese partners to share the lessons learned and challenges faced in working towards an increased participation of women in peace and security initiatives with various actors from countries all over the world, including Mali and Syria. These exchanges inspired our Congolese partners to connect with other organisations doing a similar job in other countries and work towards becoming part of the global dialogue on UNSCR 1325.
Moreover, the national spokeswoman for the campaign Rien Sans Les Femmes (‘Nothing without women’), Solange Lwagisha, also took the opportunity to advocate for the campaign and gather support and interest from key stakeholders, especially during the Prelude to the Peace Forum, the Peace Forum, as well as bilateral meetings with the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security and the Permanent Mission of the DRC to the UN.
This visit was a significant opportunity for Congolese women's rights activists and Alert to be heard at an international level and to raise awareness of the work done so far in this area in the DRC. Follow-up activities on the audit are currently taking place.