Women’s participation, leadership crucial to peace processes: UN

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Security Council has called on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution on Friday, the 15-member Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinges on an approach that integrates “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality,” concerns and urged Member States and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and committed to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.

The Security Council, the world body’s power centre, also voiced its commitment to increasing focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.

“I welcome your call for concrete actions to not only increase the number of women in peace-making, but crucially to improve the way gender issues are addressed by peace and security institutions, including the Council itself,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he opened the council’s day-long debate on “Women, Rule of Law and Transitional Justice.”

“Women’s participation in peace efforts is a matter of gender equality and universal human rights — and crucial to achieving sustainable peace, economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy,” Ban said. “Today’s resolution makes that point loud and clear.”

The open debate, which is held annually, provides an opportunity for the wider UN membership to reflect on the progress made, and accelerate action on implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, which requires parties in a conflict to respect women’s rights and support their participation in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction.

Friday’s meeting featured addresses given by Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, executive director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights, and Brigitte Balipou, founder of the Association of Women Jurists of the Central African Republic, who spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.

“The rule of law, women’s access to transitional justice, and women’s participation are deeply connected,” Ban said. “Women must be involved at every stage of efforts to reassert the rule of law and rebuild societies through transitional justice. Their needs for security and justice must be addressed. Their voices must be heard. Their rights must be protected.”

The secretary-general also urged the Security Council to deal with the full range of conflict-related violations of women’s rights, adding that political and peacekeeping UN missions should support national prosecution for serious international crimes against women.

While women have been increasingly taking leadership positions in business and politics, progress has been slow in peace processes, Ban said. “Gains in the representation of women are often achieved through the use of temporary special measures, including quotas. Similar special measures could help increase the number of women at all levels of mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.”