When the UN passed the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 20 years ago, it was hailed as a means to recognize and promote women’s roles in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Two decades later, it begs the question, what have we done to involve women in peace processes? And what do we still need to do? Despite ample evidence that women’s participation improves the peace outcomes, positive examples of including women remain sporadic.
Women’s substantive roles in the Colombian peace process helped to bring an end to half a century of armed conflict and have been praised as “essential to building and sustaining peace.” Libyan women have turned to using their phones to keep advocating for peace and for the overall welfare of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While in Yemen, women have mediated over water disputes, to release detainees, and to support the transfer of critical medical supplies, all during active armed conflict.
Despite these and other cases, women’s engagement in peace and security is neither sufficient nor systematic. On average, women have accounted for merely 13 percent of negotiators and only six percent of peace mediators and signatories worldwide. To better advance meaningful participation of women in peace and security, here are five reminders for the international development sector to “walk the talk”:
We have a powerful opportunity now with U.S. agencies having released concrete implementation plans to involve women in their peace and security efforts. But for these and other initiatives to bear fruit in substantive ways, we need to abandon the “check-the-box” mentality—priding ourselves at counting how many women were at the table—and ensure women’s participation is meaningful, diverse, and results in lasting change.
Monica Makar is a Project Associate in Dexis’ Implementation Management Solutions division, where she supports field projects in East Africa. Prior to her role at Dexis, she was a Program Officer at the International Civil Society Action Network where she supported women-led civil society organizations in conflict-affected countries focused on countering violent extremism through grants, technical assistance, and strategic advice. Monica served as an executive committee member of the U.S. Civil Society Working Group for Women, Peace and Security from 2018-2019.
Photo by JACQUES Pierre/hemis.fr