Women, Peace & Security

The COVID-19 Crisis Spotlights Criticality of Women’s Participation and UNSCR 1325: A Policy-Research Exchange

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A PRIO blog post written by Njoki Kinyanjui and Louise Olsson highlights how elements of the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting women’s participation.

Key points of the post include:

  • The authors consider strengthened policy-research exchange, such as the #Beyond13252020 cooperation and the FBA, PRIO and UN Women Research-Policy Dialogue, central in providing an impetus to move beyond existing challenges.

Violence against Women

  • More such studies are needed in order to learn how to best address this threat to women’s security and agency.
  • Current ability to design evidence-based programs remains limited as long as there is insufficient wide-scale and systematic data.

Women’s access to health care

  • To effectively address, and prevent, violence against women, a robust public health infrastructure is necessary.
  • Health care is of course more than a tool to fight violence against women, it is a key enabler of their participation in public life.
  • A recent study found that UN peacekeeping can help address this by creating a secure environment with decreased maternal mortality, increased rates of vaccination and increased rates of girls enrolment in school.
  • In order to improve our understanding of peacekeeping dividends and the benefits and limits of support and how they create an enabling environment for women’s participation in peace and political processes, increased collaborations between policymakers and researchers on data collection and the formulation of effective recommendations are critical.

Ceasefire agreements

  • Many humanitarian ceasefires adopted during the pandemic have failed to hold over time.
  • Women’s inclusion in negotiating the language of ceasefire agreements is critical also as scholars have suggested that many of these agreements are weak on language related to women’s leadership, security and rights, including on the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence.
  • Women’s networks are now critical vehicles for women’s participation in COVID-19 prevention and responses and in ensuring women continue to have a voice in the ongoing political life of their countries.
  • In South Sudan, the response measures to COVID-19 have reversed gains in women’s participation as peace builders.
    • Concerned by this turn of events, and specifically by women’s inability to participate in and monitor the peace process as efforts moved online, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) swung into action to support women’s organizations to participate in the national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration commission’s online discussions on community violence reduction. 
  • The pandemic’s challenges have led women’s organizations to increase their collaboration, such as issuing joint political communiques and spearheading outreach including to marginalized women and IDPs. 
  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, supported women’s organizations’ advocacy with the National Solidarity Fund for COVID-19, calling for a gender analysis of the pandemic and for funding to be put aside specifically for women.
  • In Mali, MINUSMA, increased its efforts to ensure that the extensive work it had undertaken with women candidates and women’s groups preparing for May legislative elections paid off.
    • As a result, women came out to vote in large numbers and more women ran for office. They now make up 27.8% of the elected members of parliament.
    • This nearly reaches the 30% quota set out in Mali’s electoral law and is higher than the global average.
  • To overcome the pandemic, we must all step up our partnerships with women leaders and women’s organizations who are on the frontlines of efforts to ensure women’s rights, including the right to lead peace and political processes, survive this pandemic.
  • Importance of strengthened partnership between research and policy.
    • Scholars still have a very limited understanding of how gender equality can be achieved and maintained in post-conflict processes and what policies are likely to be most effective

Read the full article here.