UNSCR 1325 beyond its 20th Anniversary
9 Insights to encourage greater engagement of women in post conflict decision-making
By Kawtar Zerouali, Regional Innovation Specialist & Frances Guy, Regional Gender Team Leader, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States in Amman
Today, women are on the frontlines of the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, women have always been on the frontlines of conflict and peace-making. Yet they are often not noticed and sometimes deliberately excluded.
The adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the birth of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda on 31 October 2000 recognised the importance of women’s roles in peace. Twenty years and ten resolutions on, women continue to work effectively but largely unseen as they respond to crises and human security concerns.
Acknowledging the slow level of implementation of the goals of the WPS resolutions, UNDP collaborated with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and UN Women to launch a global public consultation between May and June 2020.
Recognizing that peace work often happens in the most remote contexts, and with the support of UNDP’s accelerators labs, the consultation included a real effort to reach out to those without easy access to the internet.
Subsequently we organized a sensemaking exercise involving in-depth consultations with women peacebuilders and activists from around the world. This allowed us to find, engage with and amplify the voices of women, who are doing the hard work of creating the foundations for rebuilding in conflict and post-conflict societies around the world. Without these essential building blocks of early recovery, peace does not stand a chance, but this essential work is rarely recognised.
The results of all these consultations are summarised in nine insights that point to opportunities to change how we work in crisis contexts, and to impact how the WPS resolutions can be fully implemented as we move beyond 2020.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the first WPS resolution, UNDP is releasing those insights through multiple platforms, including a social media campaign. Please review the full text of the insights, and list of opportunities and follow our #WPSBeyond2020 campaign.
Here is what we have learned from the wisdom of with women peacebuilders and activists from around the world.
Insight 1: The disconnect between UNSCR 1325 and grassroots women’s organizations and needs is undermining the women, peace, and security agenda
There is a need to foster greater engagement between political representatives and grassroot leaders to connect over core issues. These sessions can be closed-door dialogues with the aim to build stronger working relationships and support on the ground.
Insight 2: Women’s peacebuilding work differs stylistically from formal, masculine norms — and recognition of these actions is vital to secure support for it in pre- and post-conflict peacebuilding work
This insight opens opportunities to:
- change the narrative around what peacebuilding can be though promoting actively and including stories where women are seen and recognized as active agents; and
- extend gains made by women during conflict by defining and securing their roles to continue to deliver benefits post-conflict.
Insight 3: Women’s groups are most effective at weaving together former conflict groups when building shared community investments
Some of the most effective peacebuilding initiatives have created places for shared investment between former conflict parties in communities, such as community gardens or agricultural collectives.
Future opportunities based on this insight could be to:
- identify platforms for shared community investment that fit the four characteristics and invest in enabling them; and
- reconstruct the narrative around these shared investments as active peacebuilding initiatives to combat perceptions that they are peripheral or non-essential
Insight 4: Women are building a decentralized social service infrastructure and network with untapped potential
Women have been connecting with each other, acting as active agents addressing needs in their communities, from communal lending groups, to delivering emergency aid, to providing health and safety information, which have allowed communities to better cope with disasters and crises such as COVID.
The opportunity to build on these communities has never been greater because they are actively supporting the COVID-19 response. We must invest in bringing together disparate community service initiatives so that they can be sustained beyond the immediate crisis and be engaged more systematically by governments and the international community.
Insight 5: Building effective income generation programs requires investing in supply and demand ecosystems — not just capacity building — and breaking beyond craft making
The most effective investments for generating income for women are not in women’s skills but in facilitating trade or shifting demand for the products or services they produce. This can include providing market access or finding ways to encourage existing buyers to shift who they buy from.
This insight underlines how important it is to invest in linking markets, particularly sources of supply to sources of demand, building demand, or shifting demand towards women’s products and services.
Insight 6: Personal communication devices have the power to be transformative for women’s empowerment thanks to the possibilities they create
When women gain access to mobile phones, they gain the ability to connect with potential employers and digital marketplaces, to connect with other women and to access information about government services and to manage their own money through e-wallets.
There is an opportunity to:
- enable all women to communicate using mobile phones by shifting norms around the ownership of phones, through access to devices and through access to services, particularly “whitelisted” data services (e.g. government information or messaging services); and
- invest in services and information that women can connect to directly through their devices, including financial education and planning services to support the family.
Insight 7: Women’s networking is the backbone of empowerment — but the “projectized” nature of development means it is poorly supported
This insight calls on development agencies to:
- build budget and time for networking as a core and not peripheral goal in existing initiatives for women; and
- create forums and spaces for women to connect and build relationships beyond actual programs.
Insight 8: As women organize, they are creating a viable power base that can help build local government capacity
As women organize through activities such as lending groups, neighbourhood communities, or medical aid groups, they are building alternate power bases in their communities. These power bases have the potential to build government capacity.
There is an opportunity to:
- invest in ongoing activities that connect women so they can organize around activities that are, at least initially, depoliticized; and
- Teach leadership and organizational skills and provide a forum to practice decision-making through these platforms
Insight 9: Effective empowerment initiatives need to be connected
Empowerment initiatives that act as steppingstones to further empowerment opportunities create the greatest gains for women’s empowerment — but many investments in women’s empowerment are siloed.
There is an opportunity to connect initiatives to ensure women are engaged in all levels of decision making from the local to the global.
As we move forward, UNDP with its partners will continue to help these women raise their voices by incorporating these insights into global agendas and ensuring that these recommendations are translated into programmes and projects on the ground.