No women - no peace

peace
Photo: Reuters/Christopher Herwig/Files

Women are a prime target in conflict. Yet when it comes to building peace, women are frequently excluded.

In conflict areas, women's rights and security are threatened long before gunshots are heard. Women's mobility gets restricted. Their freedom is taken away. Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) is increasingly used as a tactic of war and terrorism and often considered a ‘lesser’ war crime, rarely addressed in reparation schemes and ceasefire agreements.

Almost 18 years ago, for the first time, the importance of women being involved on equal terms with men in efforts to promote peace and security was highlighted with the adoption of UN resolution 1325.  A ground-breaking decision. Unfortunately, the world has not become more peaceful or less complicated since the adoption of 1325, but research has nevertheless has strongly documented that the participation of women does make a difference.

This week UN Women together with the United Services Institute of India (USI) have brought together military, police and paramilitary forces as well as humanitarian actors from more than 12 countries for a training programme on how to build capacities of stakeholders in UN peace missions on ending Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV). 

The Norwegian Ambassador, Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, attended the inaugural ceremony on Monday this week. Playing a key role globally in promoting the women, peace and security agenda, the Norwegian government launched in 2006 its first Action Plan on Women Peace and security (updated both in 2011 and 2015). It is imperative that everyone who in any way works with issues of peace and security seek to ensure that the needs, priorities and rights of both men and women are upheld.

At the inaugural ceremony Vice Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army Lt. general Sarath Chand emphasised on the importance of female peacekeepers and gave a promise that India will work towards an increase in contributions.  Ambassador Kamsvåg welcomed the Indian commitment in his special address. “The women peace and security agenda is not a side event. India’s stand on doubling female participation in its military operations will inspire other member states to follow” .

Instructors in the programme comprise of senior officials from UN Women, USI, the police, military and civilian experts who have long-standing expertise and experience on CRSV prevention and response.  Thematic subjects covered during the programme will include gender principles and culture, response to potential, impending and ongoing sexual violence perpetrated by State and non-State actors, and the do’s and don’ts for first responders among many.