It has been an exciting week at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women!

WILPF’s delegation of over 40 women from around the world, including from: Australia, Bosnia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Syria, United States, and United Kingdom, has converged in New York to mobilise, strategise, and demand action!

Together we have called not just for women’s empowerment, but for transformational change that moves from a political economy of war to a political economy of gender justice, demilitarisation, and peace.

WILPF main event: Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: A Roadmap for the 1325 Global Study Recommendations

The first week of the CSW kicked off successfully for WILPF.

On Tuesday 15 March, WILPF and MADRE, with partners, held a symposium on Implementing the Women, Peace & Security Agenda: A Roadmap for the 1325 Global Study Recommendations” at CUNY Law Centre.

WILPF & MADRE Symposium on Implementing the WPS Agenda. Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).

WILPF & MADRE Symposium on Implementing the WPS Agenda. Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).

The symposium brought together over 150 participants, including representatives from civil society, former military, UN entities, and member states. It created space to map obstacles and build strategies to strengthen implementation and accountability on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda around the 2015 WPS Global Study, which has provided an evidence base for action.

Where are we now?

In the first part of the symposium, speakers reflected on where we are now with implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and where we need to go. According to the lead author of the 2015 Global Study on Women, Peace and Security Radhika Coomaraswamy, “we need a whole paradigm shift.”

Other high level panelists supported action for transformational rather than incremental change. According to WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees, “we need to challenge militarism as a way of thought.” Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee discussed how militarism and fear has even affected her family, and reaffirmed the need for solidarity and action. She stated, “Women work with sweat, tears – and sometimes blood – to change the world.”

Mapping obstacles and developing strategies for accountability

In the second part of the symposium, participants broke out into conversation circles to map out obstacles to key Global Study recommendations and explore different strategies on key priority areas for change. Breakout groups included:

  • Addressing Militarisation to Violent Masculinities
  • Combating Violent Extremism
  • Supporting Women’s Human Rights Defenders and Peacebuilders
  • Adequate Financing for the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda
  • Participation in Peace & Reconstruction Processes

Conversation highlights:

“The legacy of colonialism and unemployment, as well as structural inequalities, have negatively affected the role of women in the society causing the development of militarism.”

  • Dean Peacock (Sonke / Men Engage Alliance)

“Counter-terrorism measures have been utilized to attack civil society and limit freedom of expression in the context of the shrinkage of the world’s democratic space.”

  • Lydia Alpizar (AWID)

“There are a lot of actors involved, and if we want real change, we need different stakeholders involved.”

  • Yifat Susskind (MADRE)

Allocation of funding is also necessary to ensure that peace processes consistently include women.”

  • Sharon Bhagwan Rolls (FemLink Pacific)

We need an independent monitoring mechanism that allows us to get information and transparency on peace processes.

  • Liesl Gerntholtz (Human Rights Watch)

The event concluded with report-backs from the conversation circles, discussion of next steps, and sharing of commitments and calls for action.

Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).

Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).

Where do we go from here?

The importance of creating an effective roadmap for implementation of the Global Study and accountability on the Women, Peace and Security agenda was underscored by the personal reflections on the life of recently assassinated environmental and indigenous rights activist and women human rights defender, Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in Honduras on March 3, 2016.

Berta’s daughter, Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, joined participants at the event to bring attention to her mother’s legacy. She shared a powerful call for solidarity and collaborative action against militarised and extractivist industries that violate indigenous land rights and women’s human rights. She called for the struggle to continue. “Berta Vive!”

Stay involved!

Keep following along with us on social media with our hashtags #UNSCR1325, #CSW60 and @WILPF @Peace_Women.

If you participated in CSW these past couple of weeks, what have you thought of it? Please share your experience in the comments below!