Women and Security?Yes, the two go together

RESOLUTION 1325 AND GENDER

 

WHAT DOES GENDER HAVE TO DO WITH SECURITY?

 

The discussion of the role that gender plays has been debated upon for a while now.  On the 15th anniversary of the 1325 resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council, the United States Institute of peace held an interactive session led by a panel of leaders such as Elizabeth Rehn from Nomadic countries to bring to the attention the importance of gender inclusivity in security.  The definition of gender does not only refer to women but to both sexes that is male and female.

 

International women’s day on March 8 seeks to implement and highlight the gender equality (parity) goal, more particularly the 50-50 gender goal by 2030. The importance of this goal is to show the importance of active women participation in sustainable development on a global scale.

 

Let us take a look at some statics that involve gender parity:

 

  • Women are represented by a 15-20% in climate negotiations. That is a representation of a fifth in those negotiations.
  • Participation of women remains below 10% in peace negotiations. 
  • In the UN only 15-25% peace missions are led by women. taking into consideration that the most affected persons in conflict areas are women and children, women do not participate in peace missions.

 

These statistics show a disappointing number of women’s participation in issues that largely involve them.  When an in-depth analysis is done on conflict zones such as Syria, Afghanistan, DRC and Kosovo the number of women and children afflicted is very high.  Therefore it would only be fair and just if more women are included when it comes to solutions in peace and security.

 

In Africa, the patriarchal system has had quite the influence when it comes to the inclusion of women in various fields such as economic development, Diplomatic missions and development aid.  In Africa Traditional society, women were considered or categorized as property.  In addition to that, most of these communities were polygamous in nature.  The more wives and children a man had, the wealthier he was considered. 

 

Back to the modern day, these ideologies are slowly being eliminated.  However, in the rural/grass root areas they still exist.  Women play a major role in the growth of the society.  Studies have shown that where women are involved in economic development there is significant growth where diplomatic, peace and conflict negotiations involve women the result is more effective than where women are not involved.  This is the same case when it comes to development aid; where women are involved the success rate is higher as compared to where there are no women.

 

 

What would be the advantage of the principle of inclusivity?

  • It could reduce conflict and confrontation.

Women tend to be more level headed and amicable when it comes to conflict. This provides a better and more effective environment for negotiations.

  • Greater source of security for women and children.

This will be applicable in areas where there are cultural divides, for example in areas where culture prohibits the interaction of men and women on sensitive issues such as sexual violence which is used as a weapon in conflict areas. 

  • Improve access and support for local women.

In grass root and rural areas the women are more open to women peace keepers. This is essential in conflict and post-conflict resolution. 

  • Women are more approachable.

Women are more understanding and easier to communicate with as opposed to men.

 

The inclusion of women in peace and conflict resolution/negotiations shows a long-lasting result.  Even where leaders in security are involved, the inclusion of the needs of women is an important yet more often than not ignored. For example, in a conflict affected area some of the important factors that should be considered are; carrying out a gender based analysis that takes women and children into consideration, working within the existing structures by infiltrating patriarchal systems (where applicable) from the inside, understanding the culture in order to penetrate the area (for example having women in peace keeping missions to source or get information where they are not allowed to interact with men), strategically using gender mainstreaming (in this strategy the authorities involved should expect resistance in this as it is a slow process).  By protecting the interest of women, leaders in security will be promoting gender and women’s rights which in turn brings about a better understanding of the importance of women in peace negations.  

 

Another area in security that women should be highly considered are in areas where radicalization takes place. Taking into account that women are not only victims but are actors too.  In such areas some of the tactical strategies include, knowing the routine and cultural processes of that community, being knowledgeable in the gender and sexual violence and involving locals in the areas affected by radicalization.

 

On the International Women’s Day 2016 , the realization of the 50-50 goal is one step closer to being achieved. In East Africa, Rwanda boasts of 56% representation in politics, South Africa has 42%, Tanzania has 36% and Uganda has 35%. This goes to show that women’s participation in politics which has a direct connection to growth and sustainable development is slowly on the rise. More women are being exposed to opportunities in different areas that bring about growth.  In Africa, there is a long way to go in the involvement of women in the peace negotiation processes.  Quite at a slow pace but we are getting there.  Africa has the potential to be more than it is i.e the participation of more women in development will ensure that as a continent we achieve the maximum potential.

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