Women’s Political Participation and Peacekeeping

8 May

Recently, Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, and Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, held a joint Security Council briefing on women peace and security issues, focusing on women’s political participation and protection from a peacekeeping perspective, respectively.  While Madame Bachelet focused on women’s agency, in particular the need for women to play a role in conflict resolution and encouraged their participation and engagement in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, Mr. Ladsous focused on the protection of women and the need for more training and protection in order to establish a reliable security sector for women’s participation.

Madame Bachelet discussed that most of women’s political participation has been at informal stages and that has not translated at high level.  Women’s participation is a necessary component to resolving a crisis situation and it must be integrated into peace or mediation agreements; of course, of special importance is the role of mediators and advisers and their role in bringing attention to women in conflict resolution.  On rule of law as one of the most important elements of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, she stressed the importance of referring cases to the ICC and other tribunals and assessing lessons learned from previous cases.  She also linked reparations with relieving economic and social marginalization that can be at the root of the violence against women.  

Among the suggestions made include creating more opportunities for women to participate in conflict resolution and peacebuilding forums by inviting them in donor conferences and other international engagement processes. In addition, consults with SRSGs, advisors, Member States and other relevant stakeholders on the need of women’s participation in conflict resolution are promoted in hopes of encouraging and engaging more women in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes. Also, a review of lessons learned from international criminal tribunals and their prosecutions on sexual and gender-based violence that can be applied to future processes.  

Adding upon Madame Bachelet’s theme of political participation, Mr. Ladsous discussed that while peacekeeping has seen progress in the participation in election and political institutions, more remains be done. He noted that one of the major problems of participation of women in election processes, both as candidates and voters, is the lack of freedom of movement and more needs to be done to ensure for the security of women in such settings. Mr. Ladsous outlined some of the steps taken from the UN Missions on the ground to assure for the protection of women, including establishing temporary special measures or holding elections workshops or training police officers. But, while peacekeepers are there to protect civilians directly, the main responsibility to protect continues to lie with the host state itself and peacekeeping cannot be a substitute for that.  Stronger national institutions that promote security and decrease levels of violence need to be in place; civilian capacities need to be strengthened, and protection efforts need to be sustained and multiplied.

Overall, creating a reliable security sector for women’s participation is, of course, essential not only to the protection and prevention of violence against women, but also to women’s participation. As we move forward and evaluate UN Mission mandates, it is important to reflect and assess the progress on the ground on these issues.  

-Melina Lito  

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One Response to “Women’s Political Participation and Peacekeeping”

  1. ICRtoP May 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on ICRtoP Blog.

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