Below is a list of questions to serve as a starting framework for the discussion in this thread:
- There are many models of inclusion for women’s involvement in peace processes, including direct participation at the negotiating table, observer status, consultations, inclusive commissions, problem-solving workshops, public decision making, mass action, and more. Please share your thoughts on the effectiveness or the limitations of these various models.
- How can women involve themselves with peacebuilding when they are excluded from official peace talks? Examples include grassroots initiatives, political demonstrations, coalition building, etc.
- In situations where the state does not acknowledge the legitimacy of women’s participation, what are some strategies for fighting for recognition? Are there international institutions or pieces of legislation have been useful in lobbying for women’s participation in peacebuilding? What are strategies for effectively using them as resources?
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was endorsed almost two decades ago, in 2000, and called for a more systematic inclusion of women's voices in peace-making and peace-building processes as part of a broader "women, peace and security" (WPS) agenda. I have recently been doing a piece of work on parliamentary engagement with the WPS agenda and it appears that there is still considerable lack of awareness of the key elements of the WPS agenda, at least in the legislative branch. That said, some countries have been more progressive. For example, in the Philippines, the legislature passed what is known as the "Magna Carta for Women" (see http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/research/Philippines/RA%209710%20-%20Magna%20Ca...), which includes specific requirements re ensuring women's voices are included in peace processes! Many other countries have developed WPS National Action Plans, which also call for more structured, deliberate action by government bodies to ensure that the diplomatic corp, defence forces and other key peacebuilding institutions are gender-sensitive and proactively include women.
It would be useful to know from other countries, particular those that have WPS NAPs in place - do you think these NAPs are having an impact, in terms of increasing the inclusion of women in peace processes? Ate they useful as a mechanism for systematically addressing WPS issues, or are they just another waste of paper???
So in the Arab states, only Iraq and Palestine have their own NAPs. Currently, Jordan, Lebanon, and Somalia are working on their own NAPs. I have done a study on Iraq NAP because it was the first NAP in the region. The Iraq NAP first cycle was from 2014-2018 and they are supposed to be workign on the second cycle. Additionally, they also developed local NAPs for a number of regions. The development of the plan I beleive was not bad. They formed a governental cross cutting team and there were wide consultations at national level with women led organisations and networks.
However, they have faced many challenges during the first cycle, because Iraq had budget deficit and had to abolish the Ministry of Women's Affairs. The plan generally was not allocated enough funds. Additionally, I did not see at teh time of doing the study earlier this year that there were any efforts to do an evaluation of the impact of the first cycle of the plan.
One of the ways to address the increased inclusion of women is to make peace processes, in general, more inclusive. Too often, peace and reconciliation agreements negotiated at national, senior levels fail to engage in broad consultation with citizens. Not only does inclusive citizen engagement help secure support for the implementation of negotiated agreements, but it would also involve women since women are better represented in civil society organisations at the local level than they are in senior political organisations. As we saw in Colombia, women-focused civil society organisations were instrumental in building support for the peace deal in 2016.
While direct representation remains a key goal and demand for opening up peace processes, there are many other important and effective measures that civil society actors can use and advocate for in their long quest for creating more inclusive and representative peace processes. These include:
• Looking beyond who is at the table and analyzing what is being discussed to ensure that the issues being discussed are reflective of different constituencies issues and agendas. Women and other marginalized groups can often get stuck on the question of getting a seat at the table. Yet, as important as that it is, it is not the only way to participate or influence the process.
• Whether there are women representatives around the negotiation table or not, advocates for women’s rights can use the agenda items for the negotiation to add a gendered and intersectional power analysis of the issues at hand that can help inform the process and put forth proposals. While many parties may not be interested in what civil society or women’s groups have to say, there are always sympathetic actors and supporters inside the process who can adopt these proposals and perspectives and help advocate for them. Civil Society groups, specialists and others can work towards this by providing analyses, data, arguments, position papers and briefings on the issues on the agenda of various processes (peace negotiations, peacebuilding programs , post-conflict reconstruction plans, etc) or seek to add new issues. Adding new agenda items is difficult so finding a hook/an entry point to bring forth analyses and proposals by relating these to what is already on the agenda is strategic.
• Women and civil society groups, not least local community-based organizations, have their fingers on the pulse and have intimate knowledge of the situation on the ground. They are the experts on the intricate realities, challenges and context of their communities and should use this asset strategically vis-a vis high-level decision makers who may have the decision-making power but lack (AND NEED) the rich information that community groups can provide in order to make informed decisions. Organizations supporting local communities should help the communities package this information and share their knowledge and expertise in ways that are helpful for the processes at hand.
• Information and knowledge of the process is key to effective participation. If people do not know what is being discussed and what the agenda for the negotiations are then it is very difficult to have input or make an informed contribution. Asking/requiring mediators or conveners of various processes to share information to the extent possible and in a timely manner and to create a two way mechanism for feedback is essential for effective participation. Demanding a two-way communication is important because civil society groups often formulate proposals and share valuable input but seldom hear back about the fate of their proposals which seem to disappear into a black hole without much follow-up from the mediators' side.
• Finally, the various UN Women Peace and Security Resolutions – UNSC 1325 (2000); 1820 (2009); 1888 (2009); 1889 (2010); 1960 (2011); 2106 (2013); 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015) - and other regional and national mechanisms provide important leverage points in the form of formal obligations and commitments by the international community that women’s groups can use to push for inclusive participation. Again, using a variety of strategies and looking beyond formal representation to make use of all possible avenues is critical. This can be done by working within the system to demand audiences and consultations with mediators to using outside pressure through media, rallies, mobilization of public opinion or providing needed analyses, ideas, solutions in the process. These are all important avenues for contribution and inclusion. What is evident is that one needs multiple strategies for inclusion and both informal and informal mechanisms can be effective for advancing inclusion.
• The peace negotiations in Kenya following the post-election violence in 2007 is a good example of a peace process where women and civil society groups had no direct representation at the negotiation table but were able to contribute to the process through strong proposals, informed analysis and frequent communication with the mediation team, among other enabling factors that facilitated the inclusion of women and civil society perspectives.
Read this case study - https://www.inclusivepeace.org/sites/default/files/IPTI-Case-Study-Women... - by the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI) to learn more about this important experience of civil society participation and strategies for inclusion.
• The Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI) under the leadership of Dr.Thania Paffenholz has conducted extensive comparative research on various modalities for inclusion in peace processes across the globe. Visit www.inclusivepeace.org to learn about the interesting findings from this research.
• The online library of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue – hdcentre.org - has many excellent papers and publications on the issue of inclusion.
I really liked Amel's post "Beyond direct participation". I think it contains some very important points - most notably, a caution not to expend all of our energy trying to get seats at the table, when we could also use back-channels and other advocacy appraoches to ensure that our ISSUES are integrated directly into peace negotiatons, even if our voices might not be.
In that context, i have a question re the role of parliaments in peace processes. Parliaments are supposed to be the representative institution of a nation, but very often they are also overlooked for inclusion in peace processes, as combatants and executive branch leadership is prioritised over elected representatives. Noting that Member of Parliament are supposed to represent their people - including women - what do participants think about the potential role for MPs to be included as a way of making such processes more representative? Could women MPs at least be included as a proxy for the voice of women peacemakers??
Charmaine, I agree that, in an ideal world, parliamentarians should be front and centre in peace processes. In many conflict communities, however, existing legislative institutions lack support or credibility and, often, legitimacy. In Libya, for example, competing legislative bodies often exacerbate peacemaking efforts.
The traditional design of formal peace processes privileges the perpetrators of violence, i.e. the parties with the guns and military power. Those who wield violence are prioritized in negotiations even over political parties because they have the power to make peace immediately, simply by putting down their guns and stopping the bloodshed. It is no coincidence, then, that the number of armed groups sometimes mushrooms the closer we get to a peace agreement. These groups understand that the power of the gun can win them a seat at the table and an opportunity to get a share of the cake. This logic and praxis of prioritizing military leaders over political leaders and social movements shortchanges peace, however, by honoring the troublemakers on both sides of the divide to the exclusion of the voices of the communities (and their representatives) who have suffered the most harm. These are the people who have a real stake in peace, as they gain nothing from continuing war.
On the specific question of MPs, I believe that MPs play an important role as policy-makers and it is important that they are mobilized and supported to advance peace and to represent the interest of their constituencies and communities they represent which are overwhelmingly for peace. Yet, while many women MPs have played an important role in advancing peace in their countries, it is also important to not to assume that women MPs will work to advance the interests of women or marginalized populations as they are often beholden and/or pressured to adhere to the line of their respective parties more than the demands of women's groups. So, in choosing women representatives, it is important to look at how the representatives in question have sought to advance the concerns and agendas of the women's and other groups they purport to represent, rather than simply looking for women representatives per se. Naturally, women are not a monolithic group and have diverse interests yet they have the ability to come together across divides to bridge their differences and put the interest of their communities first which is why they are particularly suited to play the role of peacemakers. A particularly powerful example of the role of women MPS (and women movements) in advancing peace is how women MPs have collaborated across party lines and political divides in so many conflicts to present shared peace agendas and used their political platforms to demand a stop to war and mobilize for peace.
Finally, women (and men) MPs (as well as shadow MPs in oppositional movements) have an important role to play by working actively for peace within the government of which they are part. They can make a difference by holding their government accountable and by addressing issues of marginalization, inequality and injustice, which are at the heart of the conflict, not only within the framework of peace talks but as a matter of state policies as well. MPs can also support the inclusion of civil society in peace talks and in decision-making and fight against repressive strategies that try to exclude, diminish and control civil society.
I think generally, models of inclusion differ from country to country. We have to look into the context and how women are included in the country in different capacities. In Yemen for example, women especially in tribal areas are known to have played roles in mediation and prevention of conflicts. These roles goes unnoticed because they are blinded by the overall gender traditional paradigm limiting women to care giving roles.
This is one of the resources that I found useful when it comes to inclusion of women: https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/SCR1325WomensPar...
I am interested to know about the different models of inclusion in your countries? what worked to include women? and do you feel it's a meaningful inclusion mechanism or just a tokenistic symbolic "tick box" mechanism?
Dear colleagues - while i remember i wanted to share this e-discussion on UNSCR 1325 implementation anf the Arab States. The discussion shares global and country experiences and is a very good resouurce on practical activities to progress the WPS agenda - http://iknowpolitics.org/en/discuss/e-discussions/implementation-unscr-1...