Civil Society Representatives Deliver Powerful Statements at the UNSC Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Civil Society Representatives Deliver Powerful Statements at the UNSC Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security

A historical turnout by Member-States and international organizations at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, chaired by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, resulted in the adoption of UNSCR 2242. It is the seventh resolution on WPS since the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 1325 fifteen years ago. The purpose of Resolution 2242 is to enhance the protection of women and girls in conflict; this resolution specifically addresses the rise of violent extremism and how women are disproportionately targeted by terrorist organizations that often enslave women and girls and use sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror.

A total of 113 countries signed up to speak on issues pertaining to Women, Peace and Security and 72 countries sponsored the new resolution. This powerful acknowledgement of the need to empower women in peace processes and address gender inequality at the Open Debate demonstrated the desire and willingness of the international community to fully commit to effective implementation of these resolutions.

In Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s address to the Security Council he highlighted the urgency to include more women in top leadership positions and stated that the new 2030 Sustainable Development Goals emphasize the need for women’s empowerment. While some internal progress has been made through restructuring the UN gender architecture and dedicating fifteen percent of UN peacebuilding funds to women’s equality, the SG maintained that the UN has not met a gender balance in terms of spending and emphasized the difficulty in tracking aid designated to gender mainstreaming.

Three representatives from women’s civil society organizations gave compelling testimonies on the ongoing challenges of effective implementation of the UNSC Resolutions on WPS.

The first CSO speaker, Ms. Julienne Lusenge, Director of the Congolese Women’s Fund, FFC and President of Sofepadi, on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security spoke on the severity of these issues as they relate to women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and relegated the need for concrete actions and resources on the ground. She emphasized that the exclusion of women from political, social and economic spheres was the reason that women in the DRC continue to suffer the same atrocities as fifteen years ago, at the time of the adoption of 1325. Ms. Lusenge called on the UN and international community to support women in peace processes in the DRC and elsewhere and to provide the assistance and tools required for women’s full and equal participation in conflict prevention and peace negotiation.

The following speaker Ms. Yanar Mohammed, co-founder and President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), seconded Ms. Lusenge’s testimony and eloquently illustrated the complex situation in Iraq and Syria for women, girls, LGBT persons and other marginalized groups due to the rise of ISIS and ongoing conflict. Ms. Mohammed called attention to the creation of Iraq’s constitution ten years ago and how it was designed by those empowered during the occupation of Iraq; this resulted in discriminatory laws and practices and a failure by the government to implement UNSCR 1325. She emphasized that ISIS and violent extremism, while not just a Syrian or Iraqi issue, is currently affecting countless women and minorities including the dire situation of thousands of Yazidi women and girls who are enslaved and abused by ISIS. She noted the lack in political will to address the need for women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention and peace processes and urged the UN and international community to act immediately.

Finally, Dr. Alaa Murabit, founder of the women’s development and empowerment organization Voice of Libyan Women and member of the High-Level Advisory Group for the Global Study on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, saluted the countless women’s groups and grassroots advocacy campaigns that have impacted the situation in Libya by mending society back together while enduring the hardships and dangers of conflict. She noted the ongoing peace processes in Colombia and how they represent the positive impact of full representation and participation of women in negotiations. Dr. Murabit urged for full funding for gender-specific services provided by humanitarian sponsors in crises situations among many other necessary mechanisms to protect and empower women in Libya and worldwide.

Many of the statements that followed by UN Member-States and international organizations echoed the sentiment of the SG and the civil society representatives. They made it clear that not enough has been done in the last fifteen years to implement UNSCR 1325 and the following resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. What Ms. Julienne Lusenge, Ms. Yanar Mohammed and Dr. Alaa Murabit displayed at the UNSC Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security was ferocity in their convictions that the time for action is now. Women are pivotal in the fight against violent extremism and conflict prevention and UNSCR 2242 must be fully utilized to address existing discrepancies and improve implementation of all resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.

This blog does not necessarily represent the views of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Please contact the writer for questions and comments:

By Andrea Ackerman, Research and Advocacy Intern, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders