Strengthening the meaningful participation of women in peace processes – World

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Around the world, complex conflicts and humanitarian crises continue to ravage communities and hamper the well-being and prosperity of societies. Women are often the hardest hit by these crises, bearing the brunt of the conflict and paying a higher price for the devastation – from the increase in gender-based discrimination and violence, to the decline of sensitive structures and programs. to the genre. Yet, they remain largely excluded from participation in peace processes, despite overwhelming evidence showing that women’s participation in peacebuilding and mediation leads to lasting and positive peace that goes far beyond mere silence. weapons.

Although significant progress has been made since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, the direct participation and representation of women in formal peace processes remains the only area that lags behind in the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (FPS). Between 1992 and 2019, women were only 6% of mediators, 6% of signatories and 13% of negotiators in the world.

The COVID-19 epidemic has further highlighted the extent of gender inequalities in conflict-affected contexts and heightened the urgency to promote gender-inclusive approaches to harness lasting peace.

In this context, empower women leaders to participate in peacebuilding becomes more and more crucial. Women participating in peace processes tend to represent larger and more diverse constituencies, ensuring representation of a range of views and interests and full democratization of peace processes.

Use digital and online tools to promote women’s participation in peacebuilding

Amera Malek is a Syrian activist in the field of women, peace and security and, as director of MAUJ for development (formerly Radio Souriat), she is familiar with digital technologies and the use of tools to enhance the voice of women and gather support. “We launched our online radio in 2014 as a media initiative and platform that gives Syrian women a voice, addressing issues that affect them – from honor killings to sexual harassment, and more – and addressing broader societal issues from a gender perspective, “Malek said.” We started by broadcasting programs and lectures live, bringing together women from all walks of life and taking into account their specific needs and situations.

As the Syrian conflict continued and power cuts and other disruptions became more frequent, Radio Souriat turned to social media as a new outlet for its activism. “In complex and conflict-affected contexts such as Syria, new tools must be deployed to foster participation and mobilize a base of support across the country. In addition to our radio work, we set out to produce visual and audio material to be broadcast on social media, which allowed us to continue to reach out and engage with communities.

In June 2020, Radio Souriat changed its name to MAUJ for Development, a non-profit community foundation guided by feminist principles. MAUJ works on four strategic programs: supporting pluralism and community cohesion, promoting the participation of women in public life, producing gender-sensitive media content and ensuring sustainable resources. From its headquarters in al-Nabk, MAUJ reaches out to women across the country and beyond, helping them to voice their opinions and be informed on issues that directly affect their lives.

While digital tools have created an unprecedented opportunity to democratize peace efforts, making them more transparent and inclusive, some issues remain to be resolved. “We find that women are more likely to participate in online discussions because they can do so anonymously and flexibly, balancing their care loads,” Malek explains. “Yet we need to make sure that these methods are underpinned by strong gender analysis. We must continue to harness the enormous potential of digital tools for constituency building while ensuring that existing gaps in access to digital tools do not exacerbate inequalities. “

Bring together women actors of civil society and political representatives

Kawkab Al-Thaibani is the co-founder of Women4Yemen, a network of women working in media, human rights and civil society, which mobilizes and empowers women to foster peace and achieve stability for Yemen. In her work, she has sought to bridge the gap between grassroots women’s initiatives for peace and decision-making spaces.

“Yemeni women face enormous challenges in accessing negotiating space and securing a seat at the peace table,” Al-Thaibani said. “As the conflict in Yemen continues, women’s representation has declined dramatically: for the first time in 20 years, women are absent from the new Cabinet. In this context, it is vital that political leaders expand their constituencies and engage closely with civil society to ensure that women’s voices are heard.

“Yemeni women are bearers of peace and have helped lead the country towards a more stable and peaceful transition,” she adds. “Yet we do not have complete legitimacy to support peacemaking initiatives and be involved in the peace process in any meaningful way. More work needs to be done at government and institutional levels to connect grassroots women’s movements with official representatives who sit at the decision-making table.

“While it is important that representatives form strong civil society groups, that in itself is not enough. To be credible and strengthen constituencies, politicians must ensure that they represent the interests and views of their communities in the peace talks, and that they indebted to shape the bargaining agenda, ensuring that women’s demands are taken into account.

Put in place temporary special measures to increase the representation of women in peacebuilding

Odi Lagi, program director of Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI), Nigeria, underlines the importance and challenges of gender quotas and other temporary special measures to foster more gender inclusive peace processes. “I think the introduction of quotas as a temporary measure to achieve gender equality in political participation is very necessary,” says Lagi. “We underestimate the importance for women and girls of seeing women in leadership positions and the power of example: seeing women in power is the first step in becoming one. However, quotas also have limits – their introduction by governments has increasingly become a checkbox exercise rather than a tool to foster positive change. We need to establish a 50/50 benchmark if we are to truly see structural transformation in decision-making spaces. “

In Nigeria, a 30 percent quota for representation in political processes was introduced in the early 2000s. Since then, women’s participation has declined and, as the conflict escalated, women’s voices have been increased. more and more ignored. “Although instruments such as quotas have great transformative potential, there is also a clear risk that they restrict greater participation of women and be used by conflicting parties as a bargaining chip to attract minorities and women’s groups, while making little progress in promoting meaningful policies. inclusion, ”adds Lagi.

About the Global Meeting

From July 7 to 27, 2021, UN Women, in partnership with CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Foundation for Peace, hosted the global meeting on “Gender mainstreaming peace process: strengthening the meaningful participation of women through constituency building. “The conference explored good practices and strategies for gender-neutral constituency building and the links between constituency building and meaningful participation of women in formal peace processes, with a focus on the Middle East region and of North Africa (MENA). It was made possible through long-term collaboration and financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit ( GIZ) GmbH and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visit the public conference dashboard on SparkBlue for more information and consult the private engagement area (by invitation only).


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