Women, Peace and Security: Keeping the promise of How to revitalize the agenda 15 years after UNSCR 1325

In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 to uphold women’s rights in conflict and their roles in peace and security. Despite signs of progress, the impact on women’s lives and roles worldwide has been sporadic. Fifteen years on, the UN and Member States should use a formal review of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as a crucial opportunity to address key gaps. New commitments should focus on women’s participation, preventing conflict and gender-based violence, monitoring and implementation, and financing.

Conflicts threaten devastating consequences for everyone – but women and girls face particular impacts. In general, women and girls have access to fewer resources to protect and sustain themselves, are more often the deliberate target of gender-based violence and are more often excluded from political processes essential for peace and security.

The number of conflicts – especially intra-state conflicts – has recently been on the rise worldwide (although still below the peak that occurred in the mid- 1990s), contributing to record numbers of forcibly displaced people in 2014.1 Many of these conflicts are marked by violent extremism and acts of gender- based violence and abuse. This poses huge challenges both for communities and governments directly affected and for world leaders charged with maintaining international peace and security. The need for inclusive peace and recovery processes backed by popular support has never been greater. Yet, although women have led and supported peace and recovery efforts in communities across the world, they remain largely excluded from negotiations and decision making.

Recognizing these challenges, the international community has taken some important steps. In 2000, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. UNSCR 1325 called for women to participate in peace efforts, greater protection from violations of their human rights, improved access to justice and measures to address discrimination.

Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325, there have been many new commitments, growing policy recognition and increasing political rhetoric in relation to the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Six additional UN Security Council resolutions have helped develop the policy framework and promote positive norms. Denmark became the first country to develop its National Action Plan (NAP) to implement UNSCR 1325 in 2005, while Côte d’Ivoire led the way in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007. The African Union Commission launched its five- year Gender, Peace and Security Programme in June 2014 to promote women’s participation and protection across the continent. By July 2015, 49 states2 had published one or more NAPs.

There have been some visible achievements in countries recovering from conflict. Twenty years after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has the highest ratio of female parliamentarians in the world: 64 percent.3 In 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected Liberia’s first female president in the wake of that country’s civil war. In Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential and provincial elections, a record 300 women stood as candidates for provincial councils. There are 69 female MPs in Afghanistan (27.7 percent of a total of 249) compared with none in 2001.

However, the impact on women’s lives and their formal role in peace and security worldwide has been sporadic. Globally, the political will required to enable women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and security institutions, to holistically address the underlying causes of conflict, violence ‘Resolution 1325 holds a promise to women across the globe that their rights will be protected and that barriers to their equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and promotion of sustainable peace will be removed. We must uphold this promise.’ Kofi Annan, UN Secretary- General, October 2004 2 and gender inequality, to promote implementation through transparent reporting and civil society engagement, and to mobilize necessary financial resources is frequently absent.

Publication Date: 
September 2015