Women, Peace & Security

In the News: Monday, 28 September 2020

Women, peace and security: is SA a global champion but domestic loser?

Source: ISS Today

Gender-based violence and women’s empowerment are enormous challenges in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s words in June 2020 illustrated the seriousness of the problem: ‘As a country, we find ourselves in the midst of not one, but two, devastating epidemics … At a time when [COVID-19] has left us all feeling vulnerable and uncertain, violence is being unleashed on women and children with a brutality that defies comprehension.’

Amid this national crisis of violence against women, South Africa in August adopted its long-awaited national plan to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. This is the most important global policy on strengthening the role of women in peace and security situations.

South Africa’s plan is long overdue considering that Resolution 1325 was passed 20 years ago. Despite the delay, the country has – during its current term on the Security Council – actively worked to improve women’s participation in peacebuilding and their protection in situations of armed conflict.

South Africa thus faces a dichotomy. It is seen as a global champion in this area, but at home, its women face extreme violence on a daily basis and the country has until recently lacked its own Resolution 1325 action plan.

Read more here.

Human Rights Council: Concern about sexual violence in South Sudan

Source: The Lutheran World Federation

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed “deep concern” about the high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence in South Sudan. In a statement at the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, LWF stated that “even after the signing of the revitalized peace agreement, women and girls in particular, continue to experience sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, including gang rape, perpetrated by the organized armed forces, armed youth and civilians.”

Read more here.

Beijing +25: Overcoming 21st Century challenges to deliver for Africa’s women

Source: Africa Renewal

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action signed in 1995 committed the world to ending discrimination, promoting women’s rights and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

This Platform for Action remains a guiding framework for realizing women’s rights. African countries have responded by translating commitments to action in twelve critical areas of concern including environment, decision making, the girl child, economy, poverty, violence, human rights, education, institutions, health, media, and armed conflict through continental, regional and national frameworks.

This year marks 25 years in the implementation journey, a useful time to reflect on the progress made for Africa’s women and build momentum to overcome the remaining barriers during this last Decade of Action to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

A recent Africa regional review by the Economic Commission for Africa, UN Women and Africa Union Commission celebrates the progress made in promoting and protecting the rights of Africa’s women and girls while recognizing gaps and slow progress in political, social and economic inclusion.

Read more here.

Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

Source: UN News

The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for them, the head of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Monday.

And women have often become victims of domestic violence “locked down with their abusers, as unpaid caregivers in families and communities, and as workers in jobs that lack social protection”, adds the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

New data released by gender agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the virus.

Read more here.

Human rights council holds annual panel discussion on the integration of a gender perspective in its work

Source: United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held its annual panel discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout its work and that of its mechanisms, with a focus on gender and diversity: strengthening the intersectional perspective in the work of the Human Rights Council.

Speaking in the discussion were Finland on behalf of a group of countries, Chile on behalf of a group of countries, Luxembourg on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, United Kingdom, Austria on behalf of group of countries, Viet Nam on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Burkina Faso on behalf of the African Group, UN Women, Germany, Fiji, Haiti, Republic of Korea on behalf of a group of countries, Greece, Nepal, Armenia, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Maldives, South Africa, Botswana, Gabon, Angola, Switzerland and the United Nations Population Fund.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Plan International, Inc., Rutgers,

Action Canada for Population and Development, International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva, and Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-fifth regular session can be found here.

Read more here.

WPS as evolving and contested terrain: a review of New Directions

Source: LSE WPS Blog

In the WPS agenda’s twentieth anniversary year, New Directions brings academics, practitioners and activists into conversation in a book that demonstrates the evolutionary breadth and depth of WPS policy and scholarship. In the introduction to the volume, Soumita Basu, Paul Kirby and Laura Shepherd sketch the contours of the WPS agenda as something broader than the text of the policy frameworks that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 instigated. They characterise the agenda as the focal point of a WPS community and as a site of political investments, demands and disavowals. The editors position the book in the “new politics of WPS…in relation to geographical, temporal and institutional scales” (p. 2) and map, as much as can be done, the trajectory of WPS in scholarly and policy fields: beginning as a feminist activist agenda at the margins of international security, to a policy agenda ingratiated in the ‘masculine’ space of the Security Council, to an agenda that is diffused outside of the politics of the Security Council in local and other institutional spaces (pp. 5-6).

Read more here.

WILPF releases an analysis of the UN system during COVID-19

Source: WILPF

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is publishing a comprehensive analysis of the UN’s processes and forums during COVID-19 in the areas of disarmament, human rights, and women, peace, and security.

The report is meant to provide an overview of the impact of the COVID-19-related changes in process and procedure at the United Nations, particularly in terms of transparency and accessibility to civil society.

“As UN member states begin the 75th session of the General Assembly, it is clear that they need to take serious action immediately if they want to preserve multilateralism – not just as a system or method of operation within the United Nations, but as a principle necessary for the achievement of international peace and security,” states the authors in the report, which also provides general recommendations and details about specific UN forums.

Read more and find the report here.

Conflict, Climate Crisis, Threaten Fragile Gains to Advance Women and Children’s Health

Source: allAfrica

Fragile gains made over the past decade to advance women and children’s health are threatened by conflict, the climate crisis and COVID-19, according to a new report from Every Woman Every Child, released on Friday.

Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover, 2020 highlights that since the movement was launched 10 years ago, spearheaded by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, there has been remarkable progress in improving the health of the world’s women, children and adolescents, with under-five deaths reached an all-time recorded low in 2019, and more than 1 billion children were vaccinated over the past decade.

Coverage of immunization, skilled birth attendant and access to safe drinking water reached over 80 per cent. Maternal deaths declined by 35 per cent since 2000, with the most significant declines occurring from 2010. An estimated 25 million child marriages were also prevented over the past decade, says the report.

Read more here.