Do you find it shocking that so little has been done to secure women’s equal participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes? And do you want to do something more than just fret about it at home? Often it´s difficult to know where to start, so here are some tips on how to take action!
Join a women’s rights and peace organization
One person can make a difference by her/himself, but the more we are the more strength we have in demanding change. There are women’s rights and peace organizations all over the world, fighting together for equal rights for women and men and for an end to armed conflicts. You can focus on violence against women, legal rights, sexual and reproductive rights, political participation etc and either work hands-on, for example with organizing local meeting places for women, or with advocacy to get politicians and decision-makers to change laws and regulations. If you’re unsure of where to start, take a look under Resources/Organizations, where we have listed a selection of international and national organizations and their contact information.
Advocate for a National Action Plan on UN Security Resolution 1325
Does your country have a National Action Plan on how it’s planning to work with UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security? If not, contact the politicians responsible for these issues and demand that they immediately start that process. All UN member states are obliged to have one, and your NAP should be a powerful tool to use when pushing for women’s right to participation in peace processes.
If your country already has a NAP, examine it. NAP:s should be results-oriented and contain as a minimum standard:
- Time-limited, specified goals and actions of priority (and eventual countries of priority)
- Accountability attribution between ministries and authorities for the specified actions
- An allocated budget for each specific action
- A results-oriented and transparent reporting and monitoring mechanism, including a system for tracking funds allocated to the implementation of the plan, communicated to the general public in general and stakeholders, including civil society, in particular.
- Involvement of civil society organisations, including women’s organisations in their own country as well as in conflict-affected countries, throughout the development, implementation, monitoring and review of the NAP.
Is your country’s NAP missing any of this? Contact your politicians, bring them the list and demand that they re-write it to include these points.
More pointers on National Action Plans for UNSCR 1325 can be found in the studies of NAPs presented under Related documents to the right.
Monitor political decisions and remind your decision-makers of their obligations
Keep a track on when important documents regarding peace and security are being decided on, and use your knowledge to influence the politicians responsible for outlining them.
Like in this case:
The EU is an important player in international politics. The so called European Neighbourhood Policy draws up the lines for the relationships between the EU and its closest neighbouring countries. Its supposed to be ”building upon a mutual commitment to common values” like democracy and human rights. Yet when the latest revision was done in May 2011 – A New Respons to a Changing Neighbourhood – it consequently failed to mention women’s rights and equality as a basis for the ”deep and sustainable democracy” that they want support, for example when it comes to the new constitutions being written in the countries affected by the uprisings of the so called Arabic spring.
The Swedish Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation noticed this and wrote a formal letter to the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, pointing out the importance of him highlighting women’s participation and rights in the EU discussions on the Neighbourhood Policy, and reminding him of the formal undertakings the EU countries earlier had made regarding these issues. The letter was short and simple and contained clearly stated action points on things that were missing in the revised policy. The content of the letter was also sent to the chairman of the Swedish Committee of Foreign Affairs and subsequently circulated to all the members of the Committee.
When the Committee later wrote its comments on the Neighbourhood Policy, the comments contained several of the statements pointed out in the letter. Of course it wasn’t only the letter making this happen, but it contributed in making women’s rights and participation part of this official statement to the EU. And that’s one way of to making a change.
For activist in a country currently involved in an armed conflict/re-building
You are probably already doing everything you can whilst trying to stay alive. If you haven’t already joined a women’s rights or peace organization, there is a lot of power and comfort to be found in working toghether with others to promote peace. There are many things that organizations can do. Several examples on ways to take action for peace from within a war-stricken country can be found in To make room for changes – Peace strategies from women organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Below is also a list of information that’s important to gather and share with the international community. They need this knowledge from you, as peace activists and members of civil society, to be able to make good decisions concerning the resolution of the conflict and the following re-building. And if the information is there, starring them in the face, it’s much harder for them to ignore it:
- Knowledge about women’s situation.
- Observations of the status of human rights.
- Knowledge about everyday problems facing civilians, such as discrimination, non-functioning or non-existing laws and misuse of power by authorities and politicians.
- Analyses of security threats in the society, including violence against women.
- Experience and facts about corruption and war profiteers.
- Knowledge of the situation of refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees.
- Suggestions to solutions and measures on how to improve the situation.
For women’s organizations
The Equal Power – Lasting Peace report lists recommendations for women’s organizations that can help them stay strong in their important work for women’s rights as part of peace processes:
- Women’s organizations need to stand up for the expertise and knowledge they posses. They need to occupy public spaces and advocate for relevant issues to be put onto the political agenda. It is a shared responsibility of the academic world, donors and women’s organizations to research, document, analyse and spread this information in order for different stakeholders to see and acknowledge the importance of women’s organizations in conflict areas.
- When women from civil society come together, they become a stronger force for change. Women’s organizations need to support each other and work strategically together to create networks, platforms, advocacy campaigns, exchange information and cooperate in other ways.
- Women active in political parties are often faced with higher demands and are expected to occupy a higher moral ground than men, not least by civil society. Women activists tend to demand more of elected women than of their male counterparts. Women’s organisations should be observant about slander, which is used against both women human rights activists and women in politics. Women elected to political office need support and information.