Published On : Wednesday, September 14 2016
In October 2000, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 in a landmark acknowledgement of the impact of violent conflict on women and their absence from peace efforts and called on member states to facilitate measures for redressing the imbalance. After fifteen years of sustained activism, advocacy, policy and action to redress the imbalance, women continue to be at the receiving end of the horrors of violent conflict. They continue to be caught in the crossfire in violent conflict situations. The insurgence of violent extremism and terrorism has further exacerbated their vulnerability. Women continue to be kidnapped, murdered and more recently used as unsuspecting suicide bombers. The proliferation of and non-control of arms in our region serve to reinforce the perpetration of such acts as gender-based violence, violence against women, the violation of women & girls’ human rights. Given the ongoing violent conflicts and insurgencies in Libya, Somalia, Northern Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan in recent years continue to have implications for the availability of fire arms. In situations of conflict and the unregulated availability of arms incidents of domestic violence and against women and girls become an issue of concern.
As world pauses to reflect on the status of women globally at forthcoming Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 60) meeting and to celebrate the International Women’s Day, we of the Women, Peace and Security and Communication Network (WPS CommNet) wish to take the opportunity to congratulate women everywhere on the occasion and to pledge our continuing support for the demand for gender parity in all spheres of society. As we continue the search for, and fine tune strategies for women’s greater access, representation and participation in all sectors of public life, we as a network remain committed to their participation in governance and peace processes. We call on all key stakeholders and policy makers to ensure that the gender dimension and women’s interests continue to receive priority attention in the development debate and efforts.
In particular, we want to urge the creation of opportunities for women to become more involved in peace efforts, including non-proliferation of arms and disarmament initiatives. Given their role and position at the household and community levels, women tend to wield significant amount of influence in these spheres. They can be a powerful force for peace because they are uniquely placed to understand societal needs and can access areas of information that others may not be able to access. Women are often very ‘practical’ and able to relate to situations and issues in ways that men alone may not be able to and that is why we need to create room for them to be able to bring their perspectives to bear on these processes.
In marking the 2016 IWD, we want to call attention to the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and to express our commitment to serve as a platform for drawing attention to efforts at disarmament and the control of the illicit circulation of arms in our region. We think that the two key UN resolutions that address women’s role and interests in peace efforts, i.e. Resolutions 1325 and 6569 which call for women’s greater participation in peace building and their involvement in disarmament efforts need not run parallel to each other. We need to find practical ways and points of convergence that allow for women’s increased role and contribution to peace building and disarmament initiatives. The sustainability of development itself rests on our ability to bring these two together. For, as the Director of UNREC rightly noted, the effective control of arms is fundamental to our ability to develop economically, particularly in post conflict and fragile states. It is this call for bringing the efforts together that we want to applaud and support. In this regard we want to recommend and commit to the following initiatives:
- Identify and implement strategies that facilitate opportunities for increasing women’s role and contribution to non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives;
- Facilitate early warning mechanism for control, reporting and community watch in remote/boarder villages and communities in ways that allow for women’s greater involvement;
- Facilitate the use of local community networks and communication methods with women as key actors;
- Work towards changing attitudes by “disarming the mind” i.e. find ways of changing society’s mindset towards proliferation of arms and illicit trafficking;
- Increase awareness and sensitization with regard to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in order to encourage more countries on the continent to ratify the treaty; and
- Maximize social media platforms to disseminate information on women’s empowerment and greater involvement in peace and disarmament efforts.
With these in place, we believe that the pledge to gender parity and women’s greater participation in peace processes, particularly with regard to the control of illicit arms trafficking and disarmament efforts can best be realized. Women are often very ‘practical’ and able to serve as the ‘ears’ and ‘eyes’ of the community. They need to be recognized as such and their perspectives brought to bear on the processes.
Released by the Women, Peace Security Institute (WPSI) of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) on behalf of the WPS Communication Network
March 8, 2016