The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) today called on the international community to go beyond mere awareness of the gender dimensions of war and peace and buttress women's participation in preventing and resolving national and local conflicts.
International awareness of gender in conflict had increased, thanks to Security Council resolution 1325, which urged "Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict" and the efforts of governments, UN bodies and civil society to implement it, UNIFEM Deputy Director Joanne Sandler told a news conference.
"But awareness is not enough. As we approach the five-year anniversary of 1325 in October, what's needed is stronger support for women's participation in all efforts to promote and maintain peace and security," she added, against the backdrop of the meeting at UN Headquarters of the 23-member Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) from 5 to 22 July.
While a few women have been able to take part in peace processes in different capacities over the past decade, it was still rare for women to be involved alongside men at every stage, including the implementation of peace agreements, UNIFEM said in a statement.
Where women have gained access to negotiations, they have made valuable contributions, it said, drawing attention to their roles in Somalia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
"Formal peace negotiations that leave out half the population have limited hope of popular support," Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, UNIFEM's regional programme director for East and Horn of Africa, said.
UNIFEM, which maintains a web portal called "Women, War and Peace," also has published "Women at the Peace Table: Making a Difference," which includes interviews with women leaders who have advocated for women's participation in peace negotiations.