When UNSCR 1325 was adopted in 2000 it clearly stated women’s right to equal participation in peace and re-building processes. But still there are many countries who hasn’t even developed a National Action Plan (NAP) for how to implement the resolution. One of these countries is Iraq, where women’s rights activists now have joined together to get a NAP into place.
Iraq is one of the countries that suffered greatly from the aftermath of conflicts and wars that have affected the social, economic, cultural, health and political status of women. Despite having played a critical role in sustaining the community and the remaining infrastructure and despite playing a critical role in the social, political and economic development of the post-conflict Iraq, women have been marginalized in the public and private life; excluded from decision making on all levels and consequently been deprived of the opportunity to influence the decisions that shape their lives. The discrimination and violence against women in the legislation, as well as in the economic and social life, persist, contributing to an increasing sense of insecurity for women.
Resolution 1325 was one of the instruments developed by the UN Security Council to confirm the fact that sustainable peace and security can only be achieved with the protection and the participation of the whole society – both women and men. As such UNSCR 1325, together with other international mechanisms as CEDAW and Beijing Platform for Action, is a powerful instrument that can be used by civil society organizations to hold their governments accountable. However, the resolution is written in general terms and in order for the government in Iraq to adopt a contextualized and effective response, a national action plan (NAP) with specific, measurable and time-limited objectives is needed, in order to enable the implementation of the resolution. It also requires specific actions and policies, accountability mechanism for the ministries and respective authorities, a concrete allocated budget, transparency and an evaluation and monitoring reporting mechanism.
A workshop entitled “Towards creation of National Action Plan for implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Iraq”, was held on 25-27 April 2012 in Amman by the European Feminist Initiative (IFE-EFI) in cooperation and with the support of the Norwegian Embassy Amman, to identify the present challenges for developing a national action plan and to map the way forward. One of the identified challenges during this workshop was the lack of networking and insufficient cooperation among women’s rights organisations. Addressing this problem was seen as a precondition for the success of the whole process and consequently for the development of the NAP. As an outcome for the workshop, four women activists were delegated to widen the process and reach out to other leading activists from civil society to form a focus group that would work together to ensure that in an all-inclusive consultative process for developing of a National Action Plan (NAP) in Iraq is set in place.
Between April and June the process continued and representatives from major women’s rights organizations were approached and invited to the Civil Society Strategic Meeting in Beirut on 28-29 July 2012. The main objectives of the meeting were to develop a common understanding and strengthen collaboration amongst key representatives from various women’s groups and networks to develop a NAP, benefiting from the Nepalese successful experience, identify key strategies and a work plan for the development of NAP, as well as the terms of reference for the national reference civil society group.
During this meeting, major Iraqi women’s rights organizations mapped the necessary actions for implementing UNSCR 1325 and developed an outline of a NAP framework with specific goals, objectives and main principles. The participants also expressed their willingness to work together towards building a political will for developing of NAP through a process built on dialogue, respect and the acknowledgement of differences, agreeing to maintain coordination, cooperation and transparency in the work of the reference group. A name for the national reference group was also agreed upon: Iraq NAP 1325 Initiative (I-NAP 1325 Initiative). In addition to that, an outline for the preliminary plan of action for the I-NAP 1325 Initiative was developed for the first several months, from the 1st of September till the 31st of December 2012, with a focus on building a political will towards developing the NAP; reaching out to other groups working with UNSCR 1325 inside Iraq and starting a broad consultation process.
It is worth mentioning that no country in the Middle East and North Africa region has yet developed an NAP for the implementation of UNSCR1325, hence the development of a NAP and the success in its implementation will certainly make Iraq a leading country and a model in the region. The Iraqi government can set an example in the region and in this way contribute to the building of a long-awaited regional peace process.
Download the report from the meeting.