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In the face of evolving international challenges, the implementation of true women's leadership is essential to ensure sustainable and lasting peace. The United Nations is working tirelessly to speed up women's full and equal participation in the peace-building process.

On 31st October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security.” This resolution recognizes the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, and presses for their full participation in peace agreements. This crucial step represents a pioneering movement for women’s leadership in conflict resolution. On 9th October 2020, the 20th anniversary of the adoption of this resolution, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: “Today women’s leadership is a cause. Tomorrow, it must be the norm. This is how we will transform international peace and security”. Similarly, the recently founded collective of feminist associations, Women (W7), calls on G7 countries to place women at the heart of conflict prevention and resolution. Yet despite the support expressed by international organizations, women remain under-represented in official peace negotiations or are invited as token on-lookers. At the highest level, they make up just 13% of negotiators, 3% of mediators, and 4% of signatories*. In reality, women are mainly involved with negotiating peace at community level. Catherine Turner, a professor at Durham University, explains: “Women focus on human relations and conciliation at the local level, since they are often perceived as less threatening and without a predominant political role. But this isn’t recognized as a mediation skill, which poses a problem in terms of leadership.” However, the correlation between women’s participation and the sustainability of peace has been proven.

 

When women sit at the negotiating table, peace agreements are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years*. Their role is therefore essential. Women are at the heart of peace and security issues because they bear the brunt of wars and conflicts. In the face of these conflicts, women leaders mobilize, create associations, campaign, challenge local or international bodies. They contest the rules of traditional diplomacy based on the notion of military power and domination, instead proposing innovative strategies for bringing about peace. They can contribute to creating more inclusive, cohesive, and resilient societies. Progress has been made, but regressive steps can still occur in times of crisis, and the objectives set by Resolution 1325 are not being met. Women are still underrepresented at the heart of all peace processes. In June 2021, France will host, in partnership with Mexico and UN Women, the Equality Generation Forum. It will launch a new mechanism for the effective implementation of the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda to ensure better participation of women in peace and political processes. The success and sustainability of peace depend on it.

 

Author

By Michèle Parente, SI Club Tarbes (France)

Original publication in the French Union’s Sorop’Magazine

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