October 2010 commemorates the tenth anniversary of the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which called for measures to address the impact of conflict on women and men and to engage women fully in processes of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Ten years on, what is the situation?
The theme for 2010 is Women Count for Peace. According to UNIFEM* (part of UN Women) "This theme is congruent with UNIFEM's work leading to the development of indicators on resolution 1325 to improve the ways in which we track and count the impact of conflict on women and their efforts to build peace; UNIFEM's contributions to the UN Secretary-General's report on women's participation in peacebuilding; and UNIFEM's efforts worldwide to amplify the voices and concerns of women in conflict contexts, so that they can stand up and be counted for peace".
A year ago, UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi stated in her speech to the Security Council: "It is time for us all to count the numbers of women at the peace table, the numbers of women raped in war, the numbers of internally displaced women who never recover their property, the numbers of women human rights defenders killed for speaking out. All of this counts, and we are counting".
So what is the situation?
There is no doubt that movement has been made and progress has been achieved since the adoption of this first resolution to specifically address the impact of violence on women, and to call for the engagement of women in peacebuilding and peacekeeping. However, according to UNIFEM "there are serious gaps".
For a start, the UN points towards a "persistent shortfall" in financing solutions for women's needs in post-conflict recovery plans and there continue to be extremely high levels of sexual violence in certain conflict areas. If we consider that in the 24 peace processes under way in the past 20 years, women were present in just eight per cent of negotiating teams, we also have a very clear view as to the almost total marginalization of women in peacebuilding.
The consequence is that women's concerns are not reflected in peace agreements, which in turn compromises inclusive and equitable recovery and sustained peace".
Ten years on, we are once again faced with the prospect of a lot of well-meaning phrases and soundbites, a lot of goodwill, and on the ground in concrete terms, pitifully little. The UNSC is to hold an open debate on Women and Peace and Security on October 26, 2010.
*UNIFEM is part of UN Women, being the women's fund at the UNO, providing technical and financial assistance to innovative programmes to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. The advancement of women's human rights is at the center of UNIFEM's policies, these being mainly the reduction of feminized poverty, the end of violence against women, reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.
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