What next for the UK women, peace and security agenda?

This year has been a critical one for the advancement of gender equality in peacebuilding efforts across the world.

Early on in the year, Alert argued why 2015 is going to be significant for gender and peacebuilding, with three important processes taking place, namely the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. In light of these international processes, much reflection and lobbying was done to critically re-assess where we are today, including the role of major governments such as the UK.

Speaking at a day-long workshop titled ‘What next for the UK women, peace and security agenda?’ on 9 November, Alert’s Lana Khattab stressed our approach to peacebuilding, which focuses on first understanding the root causes of violent conflict and then working to address them. She spoke about the need to take a ‘gender-relational approach’ when working to prevent violent conflict, and presented Alert’s recent research on gender and security sector reform (SSR) in Lebanon, as well as the current programming in the Democratic Republic of Congo on political participation and economic empowerment.

Organised by the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security and Women for Women International, the purpose of the event was to make recommendations for the UK government on how to support the effective implementation of its commitments made at a high-level review of UNSCR 1325 in October.

The workshop brought together academics, humanitarian and peacebuilding practitioners and women’s rights activists from South Sudan, Nepal and Yemen to discuss their experiences and share knowledge on conflict prevention, peacebuilding and violence against women and girls, in light of the UK’s renewed commitments to the women, peace and security agenda.

A number of key recommendations emerged throughout the day, which included: a long-term approach to conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction, supporting social cohesion efforts and addressing gender inequalities in a holistic way; engaging with men and challenging violent or harmful notions of masculinities; supporting the meaningful inclusion of women’s groups and representatives in peace processes; making SSR efforts more gender-sensitive; and providing adequate funding dedicated to the women, peace and security agenda.

At Alert, we believe that peacebuilding can be more effective if built on an understanding of how gendered identities are constructed through the societal power relations between and among women, men, girls, boys and members of sexual and gender minorities. To find out more about our work, including reading our latest research on the topic, visit www.international-alert.org/gender