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Women, Peace & Security – a women’s issue?

T

he landmark United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first resolution to formally recognise that women and girls are uniquely affected by conflict. Over the last 15 years, seven resolutions have followed and highlight how women play both a role in conflict prevention and resolution, as well as the maintenance of peace and security. Member states are required to provide better protection against sexual violence; improve the political participation of women; provide access to justice and services towards the elimination of gender discrimination; and to enhance the incorporation of gender into conflict processes. This includes peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations and post-conflict governance.

The evidence that links gender equality with a country’s prospects for peace The work of Valerie Hudson and Mary Caprioli, authors of ‘Sex and World Peace’ and others demonstrate that the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. The larger the gender gap between the treatment of men and women, the more likely a country is to be involved in conflict, to be the first to resort to force in such conflicts and to experience higher levels of violence.

Kathryn Lockett is a Senior

Development Consultant

specialising in gender,

violence and

conflict and a

Senior Gender and Conflict

Adviser

in the UK

Stabilisation Unit.

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New analysis by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding also illustrates how the inclusion of women leads to a much higher rate of sustaining peace agreements. In addition, the World Bank has long confirmed the link between gender equality and improved economic and development outcomes, which in turn has been found to indirectly increase a country’s stability through its impact on GDP. It is therefore unsurprising that UN Women identifies the need to include information on gender equality when undertaking conflict analysis. They recommend collecting country-level data on the extent of gender equality under the law, the percentage of women in parliament, state responses to gender-based violence and female literacy rates, amongst others. By monitoring gender equality in fragile and conflict-affected states, we learn crucial information not only about the situation for women in that context, but potentially about that country’s long-term risks of violence conflict. Protecting girls and women against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict is crucial to upholding human rights and preventing death, disability and lost quality of life for survivors, their families and communities. Yet, beyond the protection agenda, more information in this area can provide us with essential information about the acceptability of violence and domination within a culture.

Closing the Gender Gap  
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