UN Economic and Social Council Encourages Women's Participation in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding
Wednesday, March 5, 2008 2:49 PM

Press Release:


Note Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) Long Way from Being Implemented; Efforts to Strengthen Women’s Role in Sudan, Sierra Leone, Burundi Highlighted

Women must be allowed to participate fully in peacebuilding and conflict prevention in order to end sexual violence against women as a method of warfare and ensure women’s full legal, socio-economic and political rights after the fighting was over, several speakers told the Commission on the Status of Women this morning.

In 2000, the Security Council passed resolution 1325 calling for women’s equal participation with men in maintaining and promoting peace and security, but that resolution was a long way from being adequately implemented, said Anne Marie Goetz, Chief Adviser of Governance, Peace and Security of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Speaking during a panel discussion to evaluate progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions on “women’s participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peacebuilding”, Ms. Goetz said very few women participated in peace talks as official negotiators or observers.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes rarely addressed the needs of women associated with fighting forces, and post-conflict planning and financing for women’s recovery was weak.

The use of sexual and gender-based violence as a method of warfare was actually on the rise, she said, adding that male soldiers, ex-soldiers and civilians alike preyed on women and children with impunity, while men returning home from the battlefield awash with small arms and light weapons posed a continuing threat to women and children.

“Use of this tactic is hardly new.  But by 2008, it is reasonable to expect more alacrity and decisiveness in the international community’s response to sexual violence,” Ms. Goetz said.  “The fact is, however, that sexual violence is not seen as a threat to peace or as a trigger for significant security responses.”

A gender-sensitive perspective on conflict resolution, peacebuilding and rehabilitation was essential, she continued.  UNIFEM was working to achieve that by engaging women directly in peace processes in the Sudan, where it had recently facilitated women’s access to the institutions brokering peace talks on Darfur, and in northern Uganda, where it partnered with the Department of Political Affairs to install a gender adviser with the United Nations envoy to the Juba talks.  UNIFEM helped members of the Women’s Peace Coalition to be present in Juba and have access to both negotiating teams there to share women’s perspectives on the peace agreement.  And in Rwanda and Kosovo, as part of the “United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict” initiative, UNIFEM had supported improved access for women victims of violence to the police, and gender-sensitive police investigation and case-management systems.

Still, budget allocations for women’s post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation priorities were inadequate, particularly in terms of livelihood recovery, shelter, land rights and security, she said.  Women must have security so they could participate in peace and post-conflict governance processes.

Overall, national capacity weaknesses could be a major obstacle to achieving gender equality goals, she warned, adding that:  “We have learned that our ability to affect real change in gender equality through peacebuilding greatly depends on how the international community establishes its priorities and uses its resources.”  Effective implementation of gender issues required several things, among them gender-sensitive programme design, strategic planning, operational capacity, capable partners, appropriate human resource and communications strategies, resource mobilization, and gender-sensitive financial management and reporting.

Published in: "Women's Full Participation in Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding Needed to End Sexual Violence as Weapon, Ensure Legal Rights, say Commission Speakers," Economic and Social Council, 29 February 2008.