Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

In Review: WILPF’s Week at the 17th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325

6 November 2017


Participants of the “Mobilising Movements for Feminist Peace: Co-Creating Gender Power Analysis Through Meaningful Participation” workshop (Photo: WILPF)

In October 2000, in response to concerted advocacy by the women’s peace movement, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which for the first time recognised the importance of women’s agency and gender analysis to peace and security. At the 17th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, celebrated in October 2017 in New York, WILPF facilitated a delegation of women peace leaders from Bosnia, Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Libya, Nigeria, Palestine and Spain, who joined activists from around the world to mobilise and demand accountability on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

Although France, the President of the Security Council in October, failed to share a date for the open debate until the very end of September, and did not publicise a concept note for this debate until a few days before it took place, civil society persisted. Together, we were able to leverage the UNSCR 1325+17 anniversary for action!  

Activists shared recommendations around working towards feminist peace in their local contexts. They exchanged experiences with each other on building a stronger feminist movement for peace, human security and gender justice. They called for concrete action to ensure women’s meaningful participation that goes beyond women’s access to impact. Together, they demanded a transformation of top-down, exclusive and militarised processes towards bottom-up, inclusive and gender-aware action.

 

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda commits governments and the United Nations to strengthen women’s participation, protection and rights in conflict prevention through post-conflict reconstruction processes. Other frameworks, including Sustaining Peace discussions and Sustainable Development Agenda, as well as commitments on women’s human rights and disarmament, provide an opportunity to further accelerate the Women, Peace and Security implementation by mobilising gender power analysis and gender inclusive partnerships across the UN system.

However, WILPF research and consultations, along with the findings of the international community, reveal that the holistic WPS implementation is still lacking. The commitments on paper do not match practice: from poorly planned and underfunded provisions of services in conflict-affected situations to the impunity for acts of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual and gender-based violence to the lack of support for women’s civil society participation in peace processes.

 

WILPF ACTION AT THE 17TH ANNIVERSARY OF UNSCR 1325


The panellists of the event entitled “Sustaining Feminist Peace: Preventing Conflict Through Women’s Meaningful Participation and Gender Justice” on 23 October 2017. (Photo: Aleksandra Kojic).

At the UNSCR 1325+17 Anniversary week, WILPF delegates participated in a variety of initiatives, meetings and side events aimed at amplifying local women’s voices for disarmament and justice.

At WILPF’s internal workshop workshop on Monday 23 October 2017, the participants affirmed feminist power to insist, persist, resist and disrupt existing international systems to create a truly sustainable and feminist peace. Learning from the Nobel-prize winning campaign which successfully banned nuclear weapons this year, they explored how it can be possible to occupy spaces that are not welcoming to women and make them work for transformative purposes. Whether it is disarming not just the FARC-EP but society in Colombia, building political economies of peace and gender justice in Bosnia or cultivating gendered early-warning systems in Nigeria, the feminist peace movement must be relentless in occupying spaces of power to mobilise, amplify and strengthen action for transformative change.

After our workshop, WILPF held an open event on “Sustaining Feminist Peace: Preventing Conflict Through Women’s Meaningful Participation and Gender Justice” with Secretary General Senior Policy Advisor Menendez and activists from Bosnia, Colombia, Libya and Nigeria. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s prioritisation of conflict prevention and gender equality, activists called for these priorities to be oriented around listening to and amplifying the voices and analysis of local women. This requires gendered root cause analysis, strong women civil society partnerships, and effective WPS financing. “The Security Council is responsible for maintaining peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations, including women’s equal rights and prevention of war.”, reiterated WILPF’s Women Peace and Security Director, Abigail Ruane.


The panellists of the event titled “Funding the Way Forward: Energizing Support for the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda: An Event to Commemorate the 17th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325!” on 26 October 2017 (Photo: GNWP)

On Wednesday 25 October 2017, WILPF, Oxfam, UN Women and the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom, along with partners from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, co-organised the event, “Weapons, War and Women: Enabling Feminist Movements for Peace in the MENA Region”. This highlighted the importance of creating an enabling environment for the women’s and feminist movements by transforming climates of patriarchal values, militarised masculinity, and arms proliferation, to prevent and strengthen accountability on exploitation and violence. As one participant noted, “If the international community is to take the solution of the conflicts in the MENA region seriously, the decisions should be guided by the Women, Peace and Security framework and context-specific gender analysis”.

On Thursday 26 October 2017, WILPF co-sponsored an event, “Pulling the Rug from Under Our Feet: What is the UNSCR 1325 Without Civil Society Freedoms?”, organised by the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) and Duke Law, in collaboration with the Mission of the Netherlands, Al-Hayat, AWO, NOVACT, Free Sight, Al-Amal, WEO and NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGO WG). At a time where the normative support for the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda is higher than ever, the event aimed to bring attention to how securitised frameworks of counter-terrorism and militarism undermine women civil society and contribute to “shrinking civil society space”. At the event, WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL) Deputy Director Diana Salcedo shared from the Colombian experience: Although the FARC-EP has laid down around 10000 arms, the existence of legally- and illegally-obtained firearms still supports feminicide and violence against women, as well as limits women’s meaningful participation, mobility and livelihoods. “Colombia still needs to overcome its macho, patriarchal structure”, stated Salcedo.

As part of our work on transforming gendered power, WILPFers were also invited to participate in two other events. At a Wednesday 25 October UN Feminist Network event entitled, “Is Feminism the Antidote to Militarism?”, WILPF Reaching Critical Will Manager Allison Pytlak and WILPF-Colombia (LIMPAL) Deputy Director Diana Salcedo highlighted the importance of not just adding women and stirring but promoting nonviolent alternatives to patriarchy and militarism for feminist peace. At a Thursday 26 October Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund event entitled, “Funding the Way Forward: Energizing Support for the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda,” Salcedo brought attention to the need to strengthen core, ongoing, dedicated funding for small, local women’s organisations who are leading the way on visionary leadership and action including through such initiatives as the “+Vida, -Armas” (“More life, less arms”) initiative in Colombia.

In addition to our events, WILPF also launched a variety of publications. This included our 2010-2016 Security Council WPS Scorecard research report, which called for the “Friends of 1325” to strengthen action on prevention, including through demilitarisation and disarmament; our Feminist Security Council infographic, which called for the Security Council to work for women by moving from top down to bottom up approaches; and a “Women and Disarmament” Summary Report from WILPF-Colombia (LIMPAL) which highlighted how arms support violence against women in Colombia and called for disarmament not just of the FARC-EP but of the entire society. We also shared resources from WILPF’s Geneva convening on strengthening women’s meaningful participation with governments and the United Nations, which affirmed the need for orienting work for peace around grassroots women’s voices and root cause analysis for nonviolence and justice.

 

WPS DEBATE AND ADVOCACY


Charos Mina-Rojas, a member of the human rights team of the Black Communities’ Process, the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network, the Black Alliance for Peace, and the Special High Level Body for Ethnic Peoples, addresses the Security Council’s open debate on Women, Peace and Security (Photo: NGO Working Group on WPS).

The Security Council held its 17th anniversary Women, Peace and Security debate on Friday, 27 October 2017. The debate aimed to take stock of efforts on women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution and share information on implementation. WILPF analysed the UN Secretary-General 2017 WPS Report in advance, monitored the debate and worked with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGO WG) to share a civil society open letter and civil society statement delivered by Ms Charo Mina-Rojas from Colombia.

In her civil society statement, Ms Mina-Rojas called for increased support for diverse women, including indigenous women, and for strengthened support for demilitarisation and disarmament. “Colombia risks wasting this opportunity for peace if it does not completely disarm itself and if the communities most impacted by the internal armed conflict, including women human rights leaders and activists, continue to be ignored in the implementation of the Peace Accord”, said Ms Mina-Rojas.

At the debate, speakers recognised that although the WPS Agenda is now seen as an essential pillar of peace and security, progress in women’s meaningful engagement in all phases of peacebuilding and women’s protection from sexual violence continue to be insufficient. Member States shared WPS initiatives at national and global levels, with a particular focus on participation (such as a range of women mediator networks). Many speakers called for strengthened gender expertise across all UN activities and deepened consultations with civil society organisations. Crucial issues for the Women, peace and Security Agenda, such as financing and disarmament, however, did not receive enough attention. Moreover, the underlying reasons for violence against women and women’s marginalisation, which stem from patriarchy and militarised political economies, were not addressed whatsoever. Of statements made, 56% addressed participation (33% of which mentioned “meaningful participation”),  25% addressed prevention, and 33% addressed sexual and gender-based violence.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

A variety of other initiatives were launched during the UNSCR 1325+17 week:

After facilitating a series of NAP Costing and Budgeting workshops in Georgia, Jordan and Nepal, launched the No Money, No NAP: Manual for Costing and Budgeting National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325, a knowledge management and capacity building tool for integrating sustainable and allocated funding in the implementation process of UNSCR 1325 National Action Plans.

Arguing that the condition of women and the denial of their rights are early indicators of future instability and conflict, the Gender, Peace and Security Index, launched by the Georgetown Institute on Women, Peace and Security, ranks 153 countries and 98 percent of the world’s population on peace, security, women’s inclusion, and justice.

Affirming the importance of magnifying the voices of local women peacebuilders, Columbia University launched the Women, Peace and Security programme to enhance understanding of women’s important role in the successful implementation of sustainable peace.

 

NEXT STEPS

Without holistic action that re-orients militarised top-down approaches to non-violent bottom-up approaches based on local women’s lives, Women, Peace and Security commitments will remain empty. We need to flip business as usual on its head if we are to create feminist peace!

WILPF believes that creating feminist peace involves creating a world where we think differently and act differently. Feminist peace requires a root-cause analysis that is aimed at transforming gendered power, stigmatising war and promoting political economies of gender justice. It requires mobilising and amplifying women’s voices who are at the grassroots-level and leveraging the multilateral system to deliver on women’s human rights, disarmament and peace. It requires deconstructing patriarchal ways of being and creating alternatives based on equal partnerships, flourishing livelihoods, justice and rights.

It is critical as we move forward we leverage the normative support for the WPS Agenda to address the implementation gap and move from commitments to accomplishments for sustainable and feminist peace.

Read our summary of the 2017 WPS debate

Share the Security Council Scorecard on WPS: Lessons Learned from 2010-2016 and Feminist Security Council:  What Would A Feminist Security Council Agenda Look Like?” infographic

Participate in the debate! Share your thoughts!

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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