Open Letter: Beijing+25: An Uphill Battle for the Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security Agendas

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January 27, 2020

Beijing+25: An Uphill Battle for the Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security Agendas 

Open Letter to the Representatives of the Core Group of the Generation Equality Global Forum: Permanent Mission of France; Permanent Mission of Mexico; UN Women Civil Society Division; and Civil Society Core Group Representatives

CC: The UN Secretary-General; UN Women Executive Director; UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Security Council Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security; Women and Peace and Security Focal Points Network; UN Inter Agency Standing Committee on Women and Peace and Security; UN Women Peace and Security Section; United Nations Population Fund; UN Development Program; the UN Secretary General Envoy on Youth; the Group of Friends on Women and Peace and Security; and the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security

Dear Core Group Members of the Generation Equality Global Forum,

We are grassroots women and youth peacebuilders, national, regional and global women’s rights and feminist organizations, and civil society networks from around the world who are working towards the full and effective implementation of the Women and Peace and Security, and Youth and Peace and Security agendas. Together we formed ourselves as the Beijing+25 Women and Peace and Security – Youth and Peace and Security (Beijing+25 WPS-YPS) Action Coalition to ensure the integration of the WPS and YPS agendas in the Beijing +25 Generation Equality Global Forum processes and outcome documents.  

Moreover, the Beijing+25 WPS-YPS Action Coalition is committed to increasing the awareness of civil society organizations, in particular grassroots organizations working in conflict-affected countries and territories, about the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the various processes related to its 25th anniversary. This is critical to ensuring that civil society’s key messages are reflected in all discussions on Beijing +25, including the Generation Equality Global Forum and their outcome documents. The Beijing+25 WPS-YPS Action Coalition supports strong participation and co-leadership of women and young women from local communities affected by conflicts in the Beijing+25 processes.

2020 is a pivotal year for gender equality. The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, and the 5th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250, are catalytic moments to move both the Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security agendas forward.  Therefore, we express deep concern over the lack of representation of grassroots women and youth peacebuilders and the marginalization of the WPS and YPS agendas in the Beijing+25 regional and global processes. We are alarmed about the lack of broad consultation with civil society in the development of the official Action Coalitions and cross-cutting levers of the Generation Equality Global Forum.  We are seriously concerned that there is no official Action Coalition dedicated to peace and security even though evidence-based data shows armed conflict is inextricably linked to gender inequality.[1] The Secretary-General has identified the lack of peace and security as one of greatest threats to 21st century progress, and one of four priority focus areas for 2020.[2]  

We, the undersigned organizations, offer our expertise, resources, and broad outreach in order for a WPS and YPS Action Coalition to be officially recognized. We present the following arguments on why there should be an official WPS and YPS Action Coalition:

1.     Many grassroots women’s rights and youth organizations have found it impossible to participate in Beijing+25 processes due to lack of information, awareness, funding, capacity, access to internet, and language restrictions. For example, despite awareness of the limited number of women peacebuilders at the High-level Meeting on Progress in the Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in West Asia and despite expressed interest from women peacebuilders to participate, the organizers of the High-level meeting were unable to provide support in order for the women to contribute to this important discussion.

2.     The marginalization and limited participation of women and youth peacebuilders has resulted in weak language on the WPS and YPS agendas in regional outcome documents. For example, the Arab Declaration on Progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action fails to highlight the importance of the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of conflict prevention, relief and recovery, and peacebuilding. Similarly, the reports from the regional intergovernmental consultations in Africa[3] and Asia and the Pacific[4] lack specific recommendations on the effective implementation of the YPS agenda, particularly the involvement of young women and LGBTQIA+ youth in peace processes and political decision-making.

3.     The official Action Coalitions and cross-cutting levers identified by UN Women—the key outcomes of the Generation Equality Global Forum—do not include a specific constituency working on WPS and YPS. The criteria for the official Action Coalitions developed by UN Women includes an assessment of the nature of the need to address the theme (whether the theme has proven deeply entrenched and persistent over the last 25 years) and the universality of the scope of the theme on women and girls around the world. It is undeniable that the issues at the intersection of the WPS and YPS agendas are urgent, persistent, prevalent and universal.

Twenty-five years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, armed conflict continues to be a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s rights and gender equality. In 2016, more countries experienced violent conflict than at any time in nearly 30 years. The risk of nuclear conflict is growing as key treaties on nuclear disarmament are increasingly under threat, and nuclear competition among countries is intensifying.[5] It has been established that the gendered impact of conflict increases the levels of sexual and gender-based violence, marginalization, and discrimination in varied forms experienced by girls, young women, LGBTQIA+ persons, and women. In addition, research shows that a state’s level of gender equality can serve as a predictor of armed conflict, whether measuring conflict between states or within states.[6] Therefore, conflict prevention, sustainable peace, gender equality, and women’s empowerment are inextricably linked. Moreover, Women and Armed Conflict is enshrined as one of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action[7].

The announcement of the official list of Action Coalitions states that “the context of conflict could be incorporated within the theme on Gender-Based Violence.”[8] We believe that discussing peace and security only through the framework of gender-based violence will not reflect the depth and breadth of issues covered by the WPS and YPS agendas, including women and youth’s meaningful participation in peace processes and political decision-making; conflict prevention and disarmament; and prevention of violent extremism. In addition, with a limited number of two to three specific actions per official Action Coalition that will be resourced, committed to, implemented, and monitored, it is likely that WPS and YPS priorities and challenges will be overlooked. The Generation Equality Global Forum cannot lead into the full realization of the gender equality agenda if peace and security issues are not accurately reflected; and women and youth peacebuilders are not able to meaningfully participate and influence how the Beijing+25 processes and outcomes are shaped.

We call on you as the Core Group Members of the Generation Equality Global Forum to designate Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security as one of the official Action Coalitions. We stand ready to work with all stakeholders to create channels for the effective participation of women and youth peacebuilders in Beijing+25 processes.

We also call on Member States, UN officials, UN entities, institutions, and organizations copied in this open letter, fellow civil society actors, and everyone who supports the full and effective implementation of the Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security agendas to join us in this call.

We cannot allow the Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security agendas to be marginalized. We cannot allow women and youth peacebuilders and gender equality activists in conflict-affected communities to be invisible.

Sincerely,

The Beijing+25 Women and Peace and Security – Youth and Peace, and Security Action Coalition

1. Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) Jordan
2. Alamal Association Iraq
3. Amassuru Brazil
4. Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center Latin America and the Caribbean
5. Asia-Pacific Women’s Alliance for Peace and Security Asia and the Pacific
6. Asian Youth Peace Network Bangladesh
7. Associa-Med Tunisia
8. Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association (AWWDA) Afghanistan
9. 1325 Action Group Nepal
10. Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) Asia and the Pacific
11. Azerbaijan National Committee of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Azerbaijan
12. BWPD (Burundian Women for Peace and Development) Netherlands
13. Benimpuhwe Organisation Rwanda
14. Balay Mindanaw Philippines
15. BrightPoint Afghanistan
16. Better World NGO Iraq
17. Business for Peace Community Development Foundation United States
18. Canadian Council of Young Feminists (CCYF) Canada
19. Centre de Développement Communautaire Democratic Republic of Congo
20. Collectif des Associations et ONG Féminines du Burundi (CAFOB) Burundi
21. Centre Bamamu Tabulukayi Democratic Republic of Congo
22. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace Canada
23. Cordaid Netherlands/Global
24. Center for Civil Society and Democracy CCSD Syria
25. CEIPAZ-Fundación Cultura de Paz Spain
26. Coalition for Action 1325 (CoAct 1325) Uganda
27. Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE) Colombia
28. Center for Peace Education (Miriam College) Philippines
29. Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise CAFCO Democratic Republic of Congo
30. Democracy Today Armenia
31. Democracy Development Center Ukraine
32. Eve Organization on Women Development South Sudan and Uganda
33. Escola de Cultura de Pau, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona Spain
34. Femmes Juristes pour les droits de la femme et de l’enfant Democratic Republic of Congo
35. Foreign Policy Association (APE) Moldova
36. Fontaine ISOKO Burundi
37. Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) – UK UK
38. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) Global
39. Green Hope Foundation Canada
40. Gender Centru Moldova
41. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict GPPAC Global
42. Global Shapers Alexandira Egypt
43. Institute for International Women’s Rights-Manitoba Canada
44. IDP Women’s Association Consent Georgia
45. I am She Network Syria
46. International Center for Religion and Diplomacy Global
47. Inclusive Society France
48. Iraqi Women’s Network Iraq
49. Jago Nari Unnayon Sangstha Bangladesh
50. Luwero Women Development Association Uganda
51. Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Preventing Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC) MENA region
52. Messengers of Peace Liberia Liberia
53. National Organization of Women Sierra Leone
54. Naripokkho Bangladesh
55. Nile basin discourse forum (NBDF) Rwanda
56. NGO Working Group on Women and Youth in the Great Lakes Region Great Lakes Region
57. National Network for Beijing Review Nepal
58. National Organization for Women (NOW) Sri Lanka
59. Nobel Women’s Initiative Global
60. Our Generation for Inclusive Peace Global
61. Operation 1325 (Sweden) Sweden
62. Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) Lebanon
63. Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN) Rwanda
64. Rural Women Peace Link Kenya
65. Red Nacional de Mujeres Colombia
66. Rwanda Women Network Rwanda
67. Saathi Nepal
68. Synergie des Associations Feminines du Congo (Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations/ SAFECO) Democratic Republic of Congo
69. Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences (SFVS) Democratic Republic of Congo
70. Teso Women Peace Activists Uganda
71. Together We Build It Libya
72. Think Peace Mali
73. Total Women’s Development and Unity Centre (RUWDUC)   Nepal
74. United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) Global
75. Unity for the Future Ukraine
76. UN Major Group on Youth and Children Bangladesh
77. West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)- Nigeria Nigeria
78. Women International League for Freedom Germany
79. Women, Peace, and Security Network – Canada Canada
80. WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform The Netherlands
81. “Women in Public Service” Center Albania
82. Women’s Information Center Georgia
83. Women Problem Research Union WPRU Azerbaijan
84. Women’s Association for Rational Development  (WARD) Azerbaijan
85. Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) Liberia
86. Women for A Change Cameroon
87. Women’s Empowerment Organization Iraq
88. Women International League for Freedom DRC
89. Wi’am Center Palestine
90. Women’s International Peace Center Uganda
91. Women’s Resource Center Armenia
92. Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada Canada
93. Young peacemakers in Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
94. Young Women for Peace and Leadership Bangladesh
95. Young Women for Peace and Leadership Democratic Republic of Congo
96. Young Women for Peace and Leadership Indonesia
97. Young Women for Peace and Leadership Philippines
98. Young Women for Peace and Leadership South Sudan
99. Youth for Change and Development Organization Afghanistan
100. Zhiva Ya Ukraine

Additional Endorsements (as of February 26, 2020)

1. Afghan Women News Agency Organization Afghanistan
2. Alianza por la Solidaridad Spain
       3. Asia-Pacific Women’s Watch Asia-Pacific
4. Association Adéquations   France  
5. Association Dea Dia – Serbia Serbia
6. Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT) Pakistan
7. Asia – Pacific Women’s Alliance for Peace and Security (APWAPS) Asia and the Pacific
8. Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) Sri Lanka
9. Edith Ballantyne, former Secretary-General and President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – International Czech Republic/Canada/Switzerland
10. Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation USA
11. Cora Weiss, International Peace Bureau (IBP) UN Representative USA
12. Centro de Estudios e Investigacion sobre Mujeres (CEIM) Spain
13. Collectif des Femmes Rurales pour le Développement (COFERD) Democratic Republic of Congo
14. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under- Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN, Initiator of the conceptual breakthrough for UNSCR 1325 as the Security Council President in March 2000, Founder of the Global Movement for The Culture of Peace (GMCoP) Bangladesh
15. Equality for Peace and Democracy Afghanistan
16. Federation of Medical Women of Canada Canada
17. Feminine Solidarity for Justice Afghanistan
18. Feminist League Kazakhstan
19. Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan
20. Global Campaign for Peace Education Global
21. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) South Africa
22. Indai Sajor, Senior UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee Gender Humanitarian Advisor (GenCap) Philippines
23. International Alliance of Women   Global
24. International Institute on Peace Education Global
25. Jago Nari Bangladesh
26. Janet Gerson, Education Director, IIPE USA
27. Legal Aid and Awareness Services Pakistan
28. Livia Foundation Denmark
29. Millennia2025 Women and Innovation Foundation   Global
30. Network on Peace and Security for Women (NOPSWECO) Ghana
31. Nonviolent Peaceforce Global
32. National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO) UK
33. Betty Reardon,
Founding Director Emeritus, International Institute on Peace Education and the Global
Camping for Peace Education
USA
34. Oxfam International Global
35. Peace Direct USA
36. Platforme des Femmes Leaders du Mali Mali
37. PAX (Netherlands/Global) Global
38. Regional Associates for Community Initiatives (RACI) Uganda
39. Reseau Musonet Mali
40. Dale T. Snauwaert, Ph.D.
Professor of Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education and Peace Studies
USA
41. Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre and Pakistan
42. Socorro Reyes
Regional Gender and Governance Adviser Center for Legislative Development
Philippines
43. Solidarité féminine pour la paix et le développement intégral (SOFEPADI) Democratic Republic of Congo
44. Roshmi Goswami – Asia Pacific Women’s Alliance on Peace and Security India
45. Suma Veritas Foundation Argentina
46. The Prajnya Trust, Chennai India
47. Women and Children Legal Research Foundation Afghanistan
48. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Global
49. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Australia
50. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Germany
51. Women and Media Collective Sri Lanka
52. Women’s Refugee Commission Global
53. Women’s Regional Network for Peacebuilding South Asia
54. Women’s Regional Network East Asia
55. Vision GRAM-International Global

Please contact Mavic Cabrera-Balleza mavic@gnwp.org and Mallika Iyer mallika@gnwp.org for further information. 


[1] Buvinic, M., Das Gupta, M. Casabonne, U, and Verwimp. Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview.  Households in Conflict Network. The Institute of Development Studies  at the University of Sussex. 2012. See also Focus: Women, Gender and Armed Conflict in Austrian Development Cooperation. 2009.

[2] Secretary-General’s remarks to the General Assembly on his priorities for 2020, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2020-01-22/secretary-generals-remarks-the-general-assembly-his-priorities-for-2020-bilingual-delivered-scroll-down-for-all-english-version

[3] https://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-documents/Beijing25/e1902218-beijing25_declaration-english-.pdf, accessed 01-22-2020

[4] https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Beijing%2B25_Declaration_%28ENG%29_20200113.pdf, accessed 01-22-2020

[5]Kimball, D. The risk of nuclear war is increasing. Accessed from http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/09/risk-nuclear-war-increasing/ on December 27, 2019.

[6] Hudson, Valerie M., Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett, Sex and World Peace, Columbia University Press, 2012.

[7] Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, https://beijing20.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/pfa_e_final_web.pdf

[8] https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/get%20involved/beijing-25/generation-equality-forum/generation-equality-actioncoalitions.pdf?la=en&vs=2217, accessed 01-22-2020