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Women as Architects of Peace: Enhancing Participation in Security Efforts

By: Mahnoor Raees

For a considerable amount of time, the goal of world governments and international organizations has been to achieve peace and security. Amid persistent conflicts and changing global issues, establishing lasting peace is still a difficult task that calls for all-encompassing and inclusive strategies. The various contributions made by every member of society—especially women—were frequently ignored by the conventional frameworks for peace and security. But in recent years, there has been a greater understanding of the vital role that women play in promoting enduring peace and guaranteeing the safety of societies. In order to address the underlying causes of conflicts, promote reconciliation, and strengthen social cohesion, women’s involvement in peacebuilding and conflict resolution is becoming more widely recognized.

The importance of women’s involvement in peace processes is complex. Research indicates that when women participate significantly in peace talks and decision-making procedures, inclusive, long-lasting settlements that take into account the many needs of impacted communities are more likely to be reached. Women are able to address issues like gender-based violence, human rights, and community resilience because of their distinct perspectives and experiences. This recognition is a practical strategy that improves the caliber and viability of peace initiatives rather than just a gesture in the direction of gender equality.

Throughout history, women have been integral to peace movements and efforts to resolve conflicts, frequently at the grassroots level. Their involvement has ranged from mediating local disputes to planning peace rallies and standing up for human rights. Women’s peace movements, for example, have been crucial in bringing about reconciliation and ending protracted conflicts in Northern Ireland and Liberia. These grassroots initiatives highlight the agency and resilience of women in fostering peace within their communities, highlighting their capacity to act as powerful agents of change.

Women have traditionally been important contributors to peacekeeping and conflict prevention, offering fresh viewpoints and innovative solutions to these challenging tasks. Women are better able to recognize the early indicators of conflict and organize resources to address underlying tensions because of their intimate grasp of the social fabric of their communities. Women contribute to the development of resilient societies that can resist the forces that give rise to conflict by encouraging communication and mutual trust both within and between groups.

Women’s contributions to peacekeeping are becoming more and more acknowledged as crucial. Women work in a variety of fields, including the military, law enforcement, civilian peacekeeping, and gender advisory. Their participation in peacekeeping operations frequently results in the better protection of civilians—especially women and children, who suffer disproportionately from hostilities. They also have a significant impact on addressing gender-based violence and supporting survivors, which raises the overall effectiveness of peacekeeping operations.

The longevity and inclusiveness of peace accords are significantly impacted by the involvement of women in these negotiations. Studies show that peace accords that engage a large number of women in their negotiations have a higher chance of lasting longer and covering a wider range of problems. Women frequently place a higher priority on human rights safeguards, social and economic changes, and the inclusion of excluded groups—all of which support a more all-encompassing and long-lasting peace

The United Nations Security Council created the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda, which is a crucial framework for addressing the unique effects of armed conflict on women and encouraging their meaningful involvement in peace processes. Numerous significant resolutions passed by the UN Security Council, like as Resolution 1325 in 2000, have strengthened the WPS agenda since its founding. The aforementioned resolutions highlight the significance of acknowledging women as proactive participants in peacebuilding endeavors and stress the necessity of their complete and equitable involvement in decision-making procedures concerning conflict avoidance, settlement, and reconstruction following a war. The WPS agenda acknowledges that women’s experiences and perspectives are crucial in forming successful solutions to conflicts, hence challenging conventional concepts of security.

A vital paradigm for increasing gender equality and fostering lasting peace is the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. The agenda aims to address the core causes of conflict and improve the efficacy of peace initiatives by acknowledging the unique experiences and contributions of women in settings affected by conflict. Achieving long-lasting peace and making sure that the needs and priorities of every member of society are taken into consideration depends heavily on the leadership and involvement of women in peace processes. The WPS agenda must be implemented in order to create a more inclusive and peaceful society, especially while the world community struggles with numerous conflicts.

The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, led by Leymah Gbowee, brought together Christian and Muslim women in a powerful campaign for peace; through nonviolent protests, sit-ins, and persistent advocacy, these women forced the warring parties to negotiate, ultimately contributing to the signing of the Accra Peace Agreement in 2003. Their efforts were instrumental in bringing peace to Liberia and paving the way for the election of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The movement demonstrated the power of collective action and the ability of women to influence high-level political negotiations.

The involvement of women in global peace and security efforts is pivotal. Established by the UN Security Council in 2000, the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda underlines the significance of women’s participation in various aspects of conflict management, prevention, and response (Dr., 2023). Despite the adoption of resolutions such as UNSCR 1325, which advocates for women’s inclusion in peace processes (Swaine, 2023), there exist challenges in effectively implementing these initiatives. Understanding the complex web of institutional injustices, discriminatory practices, and gendered norms that sustain gender inequality in these fields is crucial to addressing the obstacles that women face when trying to participate in peace and security projects. The gendered impacts of conflict further exacerbate the challenges faced by women in participating meaningfully in peace and security initiatives. Women and girls disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict, facing heightened risks of sexual violence, displacement, and economic insecurity. Women’s underrepresentation in security institutions, including the military, police, and peacekeeping forces, remains a persistent challenge.

In order to overcome these obstacles, systematic efforts are required to eliminate the discriminatory behaviors and structural impediments that support gender inequality in peace and security. To increase women’s leadership and representation in peace and security, a number of calculated steps must be taken to remove structural obstacles and create an inclusive atmosphere.

First and foremost, policy improvements must be put into place. Governments and organizations have the authority to establish precise goals or quotas for the hiring and advancement of women in security-related institutions. Second, providing women in security sectors with specialized training programs can assist them in gaining the abilities and know-how required to progress in their jobs, It can be quite beneficial. Thirdly, organizations should establish clear policies and procedures for preventing and addressing workplace harassment. These policies should support work-life balance by offering flexible work schedules, remote work options, and on-site childcare. These policies can help women manage their professional and personal responsibilities. Fourthly, there is a solid foundation for promoting women’s involvement in peace and security when frameworks like UNSCR 1325 are used. National Action Plans (NAPs) can be created by nations to successfully execute these frameworks.

The essay highlights the vital role that women play in advancing security and peace by emphasizing their participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Women’s involvement is a practical strategy to conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction, in addition to being about gender equality. Women continue to confront many obstacles despite their accomplishments, including systemic injustices, discriminatory policies, and deeply ingrained gender norms. The promotion of women’s involvement is governed by international frameworks such as UNSCR 1325; but, in order to turn these pledges into concrete results, institutional reforms, capacity-building, and persistent campaigning are needed. Reforming policies, providing training, establishing encouraging work environments, questioning gender conventions, promoting global cooperation, and improving recruitment techniques are all necessary to increase the representation and leadership of women in the workforce. Strong procedures for accountability and monitoring must be in place to support these efforts.

To sum up, women’s involvement in security and peace is essential to establishing long-lasting peace. By removing obstacles to their involvement and putting plans in place to strengthen their leadership, more inclusive and successful frameworks for peacebuilding can be established, promoting gender equality and resulting in a more durable and long-lasting peace.

References:

Chinkin, C. (2022). Women, Peace and Security and International Law. Cambridge University. Retrieved May 5, 2024, from doi: 10.1017/9781108692076

Christin, C. (2022). Women, Peace, and Security. In G. d. Búrca, Legal Mobilization for Human Rights. Oxford University Press. doi:doi: 10.1093/oso/9780192866578.003.0003

Council, U. S. (2000). Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace, and Security. UN Security Council. Retrieved March 2024, from https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)

True, J. (2022). Peace Pragmatism and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. In D. T. Sebastián. doi:doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197544518.013.5

UNW. (2020). Women’s meaningful participation in peace processes: Perspectives from global case studies. Retrieved from. Retrieved from UN Women: https://www.unwomen.org/

UNW. (2021). Women’s participation in peace processes: Mapping trends over time. Retrieved April 2024, from UN Women: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-peace-security

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