For women’s full participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding

An initiative from Kvinna till Kvinna

Other policy documents

There are several important international agreements that led up to the UN resolutions on women’s right to equal power and full participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Two of them are the CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women

18 December 1979 the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

It also requiers all states parties to take “all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men” (Article 3). This includes not just getting rid of discriminatory laws, but also adopting new gender-sensitive laws and policies, changing the attitudes and practices within governments, ensuring that private organizations and individual citizens do not discriminate against women, and changing harmful cultural stereotypes.

Optional Protocol to the CEDAW

6 October 1999 the UN General Assembly adopted a 21-article Optional Protocol to the CEDAW. By ratifying this protocal a state recognizes the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – the body that monitors that the states follows the Convention – and its authority to receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups.

The Optional Protocol allows individual women or groups of women to submit claims of violations of rights protected under the CEDAW to the Committee, and the Committee can also by itself start inquiries concerning these types of violations. In both cases the accused state must be part of the CEDAW and the Optional Protocol.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

In 1995 UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing, China. The conference adopted a declaration together with a platform for action – known as the Beijing Platform for Action. According to its Mission Statement the aim of the Platform is to remove ”all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. This means that the principle of shared power and responsibility should be established between women and men at home, in the workplace and in the wider national and international communities.”

Beijing Platform for Action was also a forebearer of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in its stating that ”Their (women’s) full participation in decision-making, conflict prevention and resolution and all other peace initiatives is essential to the realization of lasting peace” and ”in addressing armed or other conflicts, an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes should be promoted so that before decisions are taken an analysis is made of the effects on women and men, respectively”.

Beijing +5

Beijing Platform for Action was followed by a Five-year Review and Appraisal in 2000, held at the twenty-third special session of the UN General Assembly, called Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century.

For the review, member states had been asked to report on their actions taken to implement it. These national reports showed progress in women entering the labour force and a rise in civil society organizations advocating for gender equality. But it was also evident that much more needed to be done, especially in the areas of violence and powerty. And, as the review stated: ”… there had been no major breakthrough with regard to equal sharing of decision making in political structures at national and international levels. In most countries of the world, representation of women remains low”.

The General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration and outcome document called Further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Beijing +10

At 2005 there was a Ten-year Review and Appraisal, carried out by the 49th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the body responisble for following up on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In a session declaration, issued by the Commission, the governments present once again reaffirmed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (the Five-year Review). They also stated their ”pledge to undertake further action to ensure their full and accelerated implementation”. Further on the declaration noted a clear connection between the Beijing Platform being realised and the further execution of the Millennium goals.

Beijing +15

And five years on, in 2010, came the Fifteen-year Review and Appraisal, held at the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. It gave birth to a declaration that repeated the statements made in the declaration from the 49th session, as well as reaffirmed that declaration in itself.

Fifteen years after the adoption of the Platform the status of women worldwide can be summarized by the UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro, who noted in her opening speach at the session: ”More and more people now understand that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security. (…) Despite such advances, in most countries, laws are not fully enforced and negative stereotypes continue to block positive change. Statistics show that women are still worse off than men, outnumbering them among the world’s poorest, the illiterate and those employed in low-paying jobs without social protection. (…) It’s time to move from commitment to action”.