By Insight Post Uganda
In a stirring address to the United Nations Council’s annual debate on resolution 1325, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a powerful call to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality in the realm of women’s participation, financing, and leadership in peace and security efforts.
The Secretary-General highlighted the glaring lack of women’s involvement in peace processes and their disproportionate suffering in conflict zones.
Guterres revealed a harsh reality of the 18 peace agreements signed last year, only one had the representation of women’s groups or organizations.
Moreover, women comprised a mere 16 percent of negotiators or delegates in UN-led or co-led peace processes. This glaring underrepresentation casts a shadow over the global efforts to bring about peace and security.
According to him, it’s crucial to highlight women’s contributions in a world teetering on the brink of crisis due to conflicts, rising authoritarianism, climate change, nuclear threats, and other crises. In his words, “Where wars rage, women suffer.
Where authoritarianism and insecurity reign, women and girls’ rights are threatened.” This is evident in regions like Afghanistan, Haiti, Sudan, Ukraine, and the recent escalation in the Middle East.
Guterres pointed out that women and children are disproportionately affected, particularly in Gaza, where tens of thousands of pregnant women struggle to access essential healthcare.
The Secretary-General implored the international community to fully implement the women, peace, and security agenda, emphasizing that women have had enough of being shut out of decisions that shape their lives.
Women are now demanding concrete action, starting with their presence in peace talks. Guterres encouraged governments to set ambitious targets for women’s involvement in negotiating teams.
Guterres underscored the necessity of financial support for women’s participation in peace and security efforts. He urged countries to allocate 15 percent of their overseas development assistance to gender equality and at least 1 percent to women’s organizations working for peace. Additionally, he called for support in raising $300 million by 2025 for the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
Moreover, Guterres advocated for women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in all levels of decision-making related to peace and security, as well as in political and public life. This includes promoting fair representation in national and local governments and enacting comprehensive legislation to combat violence against women, whether online or in real life.
600 Million in Conflict Areas
Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, presented alarming statistics from the Secretary-General’s latest report, showing that 600 million women and girls were living in conflict-affected countries, marking a 50 percent increase since 2017. This emphasizes the urgency of the situation.
Bahous also highlighted the crisis in Israel and Gaza, where women and children on both sides have suffered. She pointed out that many women and children were among the casualties of the conflict and highlighted the impact on women in Gaza, where over 690,000 women and girls have been displaced.
The UN report indicates a decline in women’s meaningful participation across the peace spectrum but also provides examples of successful efforts, particularly at the local level. Women have led negotiations for access to water and humanitarian aid, secured the release of political prisoners, mediated local ceasefires, and contributed to UN Peacekeeping.
However, as peace operations withdraw from countries, the UN’s capacity to monitor and protect women’s rights becomes more limited, underscoring the need for continued efforts.
Gender Aspects of Conflict
Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, addressed the gender aspects of conflict, emphasizing the need to prevent and address sexual violence, promote accountability, and ensure it is designated as a war crime under international law.
She also highlighted the ICRC’s efforts to understand how military operations impact women and girls differently, particularly in their roles as caregivers. She emphasized that women’s meaningful participation in economies and societies benefits communities and improves prospects for peace.
Hope from Colombia
Brazilian diplomat Glivânia Maria de Oliveira brought positive news from Colombia, where women participated in negotiations between the government and the ELN rebel group, leading to a six-month ceasefire. She acknowledged the “gender dimension” of peace negotiations and the courageous Colombian women who have faced violence and loss.