“During and after conflict, more women die during childbirth, and more girls are forcibly married. Fewer women work and participate in the economy and [fewer] girls go to school. Of primary school age children that are out of school, half live in conflict areas. Only 35 per cent of girls are enrolled in secondary education in these settings… this puts us all in danger.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Executive Director of UN Women
Conflicts have devastating consequences, including in widening gaps between women and men. Women often have fewer resources to protect themselves and, with children, frequently make up the majority of displaced and refugee populations. War tactics such as sexual violence specifically target them. Though women have led peace movements and driven community recovery after conflict, they are almost completely missing from peace negotiations. Exclusion from reconstruction limits access to opportunities to recover, to gain justice for human rights abuses, and to participate in shaping reformed laws and public institutions.
Women, peace and security:
2015 marks the 15th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. UNSCR 1325 recognises that conflict affects women differently to men. The women, peace and security agenda urges international actors to consider the gendered differences inherent in conflict when developing peacebuilding solutions. This includes introducing special measures to address the differential effects of armed conflict on women, such as gender based violence and sexual exploitation. Importantly, beyond incorporating the needs of women during conflict, UNSCR 1325 recognises the need to increase women’s participation in the peacebuilding process.
UN Women’s approach:
UN Women’s programs on women, peace and security are guided by a series of commitments to women’s rights. These include UN Security Council resolution 1325, and seven supporting UN Security Council resolutions—1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2016, 2122 and 2422. Other key reference points are the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Around the world, UN Women acts to build women’s participation and influence in decision-making to both prevent and resolve conflicts.
UN Women’s programs foster women’s peace coalitions and prepare them to engage in peace processes. Other initiatives focus on strengthening justice and security institutions that protect women and girls from violence and discrimination, supporting public services to ensure they are fully responsive to women’s needs, women’s greater access to economic opportunities, and women’s engagement in all forms of national and local public decision-making.
UN Women strongly believe in the capacity women have as peace-builders and negotiators. UN Women’s work is focussed at ensuring that women be empowered to influence post-conflict negotiations and actively participate in conflict prevention.