Conference on Women, Peace and Security: Creating Security For All

NEWS. - The 31 October 2015 marks fifteen years since the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1325 regarding women, peace and security. This important event was a great opportunity to organize a Conference called “15 Years of UN Security Council Resolution 1325: On Women, Peace and Security – Review and Outlook”, which was hosted on 9 September at ‘La Maison de la Paix’ in Geneva. This was the perfect time to explore what this Resolution will bring next and what strategies need to be implemented in the near future. This conference offered the opportunity to give voice to local, national as well as international actors on the topic as well as provide them the platform to express their views on the resolution.

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First of all, it is important to look back at Resolution 1325, which was at the heart of the conference. The idea of this resolution came after the realization that armed conflicts do not have the same impact on women and men. It is important to create a stable environment and in order to do so, we need to involve every single member of the civil society. The resolution was adopted by the Security Council in 2000 and is the first to mention the consequences that armed conflicts can have on women as well as girls. Moreover, it aims at underlining the importance of the presence of women during peace processes. It speaks up for a better understanding of women’s experience and rights during conflicts as well as a greater participation of women in the process of peace building and security. The Resolution affirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building“. Moreover, it points out “the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention ». The main goal of this Resolution is to include women more and incorporate gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts.

Creating Security For All
One of the Panels that was put together during the conference, entitled “Create Security For All”, defended the idea that security is deeply gendered and that women and men perceive their own security in various ways. The panelists were Ambassador Marriet Schuurman, NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security in Brussels, Gary Barker, International Director and Founder of PROMUNDO, Washington DC, Sabiha Husic, Director of Medica Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elisabeth Prügl, Professor of International Relations, Director of the Programme on Gender and Global Change (PGGC), Graduate Institute, Geneva. All of them, with their different background and field of work were able to bring some relevant points to the discussion, which need to be taken into consideration when talking about this issue.

The Panelists
The Ambassador Marriet Schuurman pointed out the importance of making sure that we have female peacekeepers on hand. Their role is crucial during a conflict, since “women can only be protected by other women”. Opening training to women will provide a better understanding of women as well as how conflict affects them, compared to men. She also mentioned the role of women leaders. Seeing women as role models will empower women as a whole. Moreover, this will maintain a level of credibility, because preaching the importance of the role of women during conflict is not enough. Leading by example is the best way to enhance credibility. The Ambassador also mentioned the importance of becoming more practical, which means integrating gender equality into our everyday work, our education and lives, so that it will become more accepted overtime. One of the big challenges as of now, is that gender expertise and education needs to become an inherent part of education.

Gary Barker, the only male of the panel, focused on the feminist agenda and stated an important fact, by saying that the feminist’s agenda “is the men’s agenda too”. This agenda should not be stolen from the women of course, but men need to be part of it as well to promote equality. Men should add their voices to this battle. Gary Barker also mentioned the generalization of the conflict, and that when violence is on the table, it is usually men who are involved (homicide, war, combatants, etc). This brings the following interrogation which is, why do we equate masculinity with violence and why being a man means showing violence? It is now important to start focusing more on the role of man as a care giver, a role that was mainly taken on by women in the past. It is crucial that we try to change this pre-conceived idea that men are born violent. Some men want to speak out about their experiences with violence and we need to give them space to telle their stories. This also includes the involvement of young voices in the battle. Making them a part of a new approach to violence is one of the future challenges that we need to take on. Youth peace needs to be put at the heart of the security agenda.

Sahiba Husic, was able to bring a more practical aspect to the discussion because of her experience working with women on the ground, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She spoke about the importance for each citizen to be able to have access to full security, because each of them deserves it. Moreover, testimony of witnesses and victims is crucial. Unfortunately when people have been through traumatic events such as sexual assault, they are scared and are not aware of the steps to be taken in order to testify. They definitely need some guidance on logistical information as well as legal support. Sahiba Husic concluded by saying that to achieve peace on the ground, there is a definite need for better conditions for each survivor in order for them to feel completely secure.

Finally, Elizabeth Prügl focused on the WPS (Women, Peace and Security) agenda and on the gender issue. She believes that we put too much focus and pressure on women and not enough on gender as a whole. She also mentioned the partnership that the government needs to have with the civil society to be able to implement international instrument such as Resolution 1325. Resolution 1325 offers a platform which allows some democratic activism to take place, as well as a space for conversation.

This Panel definitely introduced some actions that needed to be taken regarding the role of women but what stood out the most was the importance of the collaboration between men and women in securing peace. Even though women are at the center of this issue, men need to be part of the discussion and need to participate without overshadowing women. By adding men to the debate and focusing the conversation more on ‘gender’ rather than exclusively on women, it will give the civil society the possibility to deconstruct its idea of and approach to violence. Discussing gendered roles will enable the whole society to recreate a safe environment based on education, an environment where being a man doesn’t mean being violent and where women can have leadership and be a role model, while still being supported by men. Including men in the discussion, transforming their role and pulling them away from violent behavior to redirect them towards a role of care giving, will bring a new scheme and eventually, give women the voice that they deserve.

Sources :
UNSC (2000). Resolution 1325 adopted by the Security Council. 31 Octobre 2000. S/RES/1325(2000). IN: United Nations (En Ligne). http://www.un.org/womenwatch/ods/S-RES-1325(2000)-E.pdf Consulté le 11 Septembre.

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