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

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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.

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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:
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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.

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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:
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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

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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.

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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.

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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:
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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.

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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:
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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.

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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:
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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

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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.

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Written by

‏‏شعوب متمكنة، أمم صامدة -الحساب الرسمي لبرنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في المنطقة العربية. UNDP official account in the Arab States

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