Violence, corruption and unequal laws are some of the obstacles that keep women in conflict-torn regions from participating in peace processes on equal terms with men. Another big part of the problem is the international community prioritizing men in senior positions in peace operations, according to the new report Equal Power – Lasting Peace by the Swedish women and peace organization The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation.
The report Equal Power – Lasting Peace is based on field studies conducted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, the DR Congo and Liberia. Although the countries and conflicts differ, the patterns are strikingly similar.
In all the regions women and women’s organizations play important roles in resolving conflicts in local communities and in managing everyday life.
But when it comes to formal decision fora the doors are closed for women. This is contrary to the statements of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which emphasizes that, in order for reaching a sustainable peace, women must participate on the same terms as men in all parts of peace processes.
The exclusion of women is present both in international missions and in negotiating teams at national level. Equal Power – Lasting Peace shows that very little has changed for the better, despite the fact that twelve years have passed since Resolution 1325 was adopted.
“Peace processes which exclude half of the population are imperfect. Women’s needs and experiences are made invisible”, says Lena Ag, Secretary General at The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation.
Equal Power – Lasting Peace’s survey shows that the most common obstacles for participation women are facing are the following:
- Legislation and standards
- Rumours and threats
- Domestic violence, including sexual violence
- Poverty and corruption
- Ignorance of the international community
“As in other policy areas, the male dominance within the peace and security area needs to be broken. It is a question of democracy and a basic condition for sustainable peace processes. It is also important to push for the appointment of more women for key positions within the EU and the UN. How else can the international community credibly argue that equality is important?” says Lena Ag.
No female UN Chief Mediator
Examples of the representation of women and men in key positions related to peace and security:
- At the 24 largest peace negotiations held between 1992 and 2010, only 7,6 percent of the negotiators and 2,5 percent of the mediators were women;
- The UN has never appointed a female Chief Mediator;
- 89 percent of the UN’s special representatives and envoys are men;
- 84 percent of the UN peacekeeping operations are led by men.84 percent of the UN member countries’ UN ambassadors are men;
- There are only men leading the EU’s CSDP operations (operations under the EU’s common security and defense policy);
- 2 of the EU’s 10 special representatives are women.