“Women should be active agents of peace, not passive victims of war”

Thursday, May 28, 2015
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The Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) was invited to administrate the social media accounts of the European Year for Development from 18 to 24 May, which was a unique opportunity to promote the conversation on the importance of including more women in peace processes.

Female Parliamentarians from all around the globe, as well as members of the WIP Advisory Board, joined this online conversation and shared their ideas on how to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution, which is one of the strategic objectives of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which has turned 20 years in 2015.

“Women are particularly affected by wars and conflicts. We need to make sure women are able to influence the decisions that affect their future,” highlighted Sylvi Graham, Member of Parliament of Norway, Former State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and WIP Ambassador.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) was the first Resolution to address the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women. This resolution is today part of the United Nations Women, Peace and Security Agenda that calls for strengthening women’s participation as peacemakers and peace builders. Racheal Ameso, Member of the Kenyan Parliament, explained: “the inclusion of women in peace processes requires more effort, bearing in mind that women and children are the main victims of conflict as they account for majority of those often displaced”.

In spite of the international agreements, today only 9% of the peace negotiators are women, according to the International Peace Institute. “Women are key allies in peace process. Their participation guarantees better re-integration processes, care for victims and greater social cohesion,” stressed Benita Ferrero-Waldner, President of the EU-LAC Foundation and former EU Commissioner. Indeed, women participating in peace talks bring new perspectives to the table by focusing not only in territory and power but justice, equality, education and reconciliation.

Everywhere in the world women are underrepresented in decision-making positions. Today, only 22% of Parliamentarians and 6% of government leaders are women. While there are few legal barriers for women to participate in national politics, the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) works to identify all the existing informal barriers and to seek strategies to overcome them (see the study “The Female Political Career”).

WIP visited Rwanda last July 2014, a country where women have played a key role in the peace and reconciliation process and have gained tremendous power, being the only country in the world where women outnumber men in the Parliament (63,8%). The WIP Summit in Rwanda brought together around 200 female MPs who addressed issues such as peace and security, gender and transitional justice mechanisms, challenges of the post-2015 development agenda and the impact of gender-sensitive legislation. Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, sent an important message to the international audience to take home “Women should be active agents of peace, not passive victims of war”.