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21st of September – International Day of Piece: women’s role in piecebuilding

International Day of Peace was started in 1981 but began to be celebrated annually on September 21, 2002. The UN has proposed to make it more significant, calling on warring parties around the world to declare a ceasefire and to renounce violence on this day.

The desire for peace, the expectation for peace have become the main dream and goal of Ukraine since the military aggression of the Russian Federation. But peace does not come by itself. It needs to be built, kept and strengthened. Women play an important role in this.

International Day of Peace is inseparably linked to another date – the 31st of October in 2000, when UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted. This document was the first step in recognizing the disproportionate impact of war on women, as well as the importance of women’s participation and leadership in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

The active participation of women is a necessary condition for achieving international peace and security. It is the significant resolution and a major source of inspiration for those who support gender equality around the world. The document is the first attempt to link the experience of women in war conflicts to the action plans for international peace and security.

“If a woman has the right, then she has a choice! With the opening up of military positions for women and the opportunity for them to get military education, more and more women are choosing careers in the security and defense sectors. As the number of women in this sector increases, people tend to trust law enforcement institutions more, and this factor is especially important in the peacebuilding process. Where women are, there is less aggression and violence, there are more opportunities for dialogue and establishing safe conditions,” said Maria Ionova, the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and co-founder of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress.

According to the UN-Women, women and men get different experience in conflicts. And when we talk about differences, we should remember that the civilian population may suffer in conflict in a different way and have different needs.

Women and girls:

  • it may be more difficult for them to get food, fuel, water;
  • women usually take care of more addicts;
  • they have a higher risk of sexual violence – victims of sexual violence are more often abandoned by relatives and society;
  • women could be forced into prostitution;
  • rehabilitation programs may ignore women’s and girls’ needs.

Men and boys:

  • they are more often responsible for the caring for the family;
  • they deal with weapons more often;
  • boys can be forced to join the army;
  • men may have a disability and not be able to work to support their families after the conflict;
  • men can resort to violence more often;
  • rehabilitation programs can be aimed only at former combatants.

What does UN 1325 Security Council Resolution state?

The Resolution of The Security Council provides recommendations to both states and international organizations to involve women in overcoming military conflicts, for instance:

  • calls for the states to ensure the participation of women at all levels of decision-making in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for conflict prevention, regulation and resolution;
  • urges the Member States to increase their voluntary financial, technical and other support for gender-sensitive issues in training the stuff;
  • invites Member States to include the recommendations in national training programs for military and civilian police personnel, civilian personnel for peacekeeping operations;
  • calls the Secretary-General to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution and peace processes at policy levels and to introduce more women as Special Representatives and Envoys for peacekeeping missions, UN field operations, especially military observers, civilians, police, human rights and humanitarian staff;
  • inclusion of a gender component in peacekeeping operations;
  • provide guidance to Member States.

At the same time, according to the OSCE, only 2% of mediators and mediators, 9% of negotiators in the world’s military conflicts during 1992-2011 are women. In the UN peacekeeping mission system, women are recruited mainly as support staff. In 2014, women accounted 3% of military personnel and 10% of police. Only 2% of funding for peace and security programs goes to gender equality or women’s support.

Ukraine adopted a National Action Plan to implement UN 1325 Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace, Security” for the period up to 2020 In February 2016.

It is important to understand that military conflicts have a great impact on the lives of women and men. At the same time, many women are not passive observers. They perform active functions – serve in the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, volunteer battalions. Women make up most of volunteer groups and organizations, providing support to both the military and civilians who remain in the temporarily occupied territories, as well as internally displaced people.

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