Gender inequality is one of the key drivers of conflict

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Source: www.osce.org

1 November 2021

More than twenty years ago, in October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (UNSCR 1325). This was a call to States to strengthen their security through inclusion, equity and equal opportunities for all, giving women the opportunity to get involved and actively contribute to peace negotiation and maintenance.   

UNSCR 1325 calls on governments to foster the direct involvement of women in peace-building processes. It reaffirms the important role that women play in conflict resolution and it should be seen as a catalyst for the implementation of a broader range of international commitments to which national governments adhered.

From the moment UNSCR 1325 was adopted, the OSCE has made considerable efforts to support the participating States implement the resolution. More than 63 per cent have developed national action plans (NAPs) for its implementation. The vast majority of the OSCE participating States have actively capitalized on their partnership with civil society organizations, research institutions, involving them in the process of drafting those plans. Taking the inclusive approach beyond consultations, some governments have partnered with civil society organizations in the implementation of the National Women, Peace and Security Agenda. These efforts have resulted in increased women’s representation in the police, army and peacekeeping missions in OSCE participating States; improved response mechanisms to domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence, and; progress in designing mechanisms against sexual and gender-based harassment within security sector institutions.

However, one critical goal has yet to be achieved — women representation among negotiators and signatories of peace agreements. The Swedish Chairpersonship encourages participating States to engage more women in monitoring missions and to invest more resources in fighting discrimination. It is a proven fact that inequality, including gender inequality, is a key driver of conflict. Women’s empowerment, economically, socially and politically must be addressed as part of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. To achieve the desired results in this area, the OSCE encourages participating States to appropriately resource the effective implementation of gender policies, including the objectives set out in their respective NAPs. Today, 86 per cent[1] of participating States’ NAPs have minimal or zero information on budget, or the financing mechanism for their implementation.

The OSCE is working on creating a networking platform for women in peace processes, that will connect women mediators and peacebuilders active in the OSCE region, to advance the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. This platform will be an important capacity-sharing and capacity-development tool, which will officially be launched on December 7, 2021.

I am hopeful that OSCE participating States will continue their efforts for the full implementation of UNSCR 1325.  It is unfortunate that after so much effort, that women disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict. For example, there are still many women in the OSCE region whose lives are endangered by minefields that cause daily casualties among women, men, and children. Often the burden of taking care of the injured falls on women. According to a recent report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, women represented 31 per cent of all civilian casualties affected by accidental explosions of landmines. Women have been killed and injured by mines, unexploded ordnance and other explosives while working in their gardens, in their fields, grazing cattle, or simply collecting mushrooms to secure food for the family or income for the household[2]. Regrettably, a significant number of women and girls continue to be affected by conflicts the OSCE region, and as a consequence, face endless social and economic challenges.

I am confident that OSCE participating States will continue to strive for the well-being of women by enhancing the inclusiveness of their societies, creating new opportunities for their economic, social and political empowerment, and by extending negotiation formats and dialogues. I urge OSCE participating States to press on with the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda which has transformative potential and is a powerful tool for shifting away from exclusive decision-making towards a more democratic approach, from gender inequality to gender justice, and from conflict and violence to sustainable and feminist peace.

[1] https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/3/4/444577.pdf

[2] https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/6/d/498108_1.pdf

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