The power of women peacebuilders upheld

Despite strong evidence in favour of their inclusion, women remain largely invisible in and sidelined from formal peace processes and negotiations.

At the international conference on women, peace and security themed “Strengthening women’s role in building and sustaining peace: from commitments to results”. Photo: Nguyen Minh Duc

Women’s inclusion in peacebuilding processes is essential for long-term success. Gender-equal participation contributes to longer, and lasting peace after conflict.

Despite strong evidence in favour of their inclusion, women remain largely invisible in and sidelined from formal peace processes and negotiations.

Since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, one of the most comprehensive roadmap towards gender equality and women’s rights worldwide, including in the area of peace and security, there has been some progress, but inequality persists.

Between 1992 and 2018, women were only 13 per cent of negotiators, 3 per centof mediators and only 4 per cent of signatories in major peace processes.

The role of women in building peace was upheld by delegates to the international conference on women, peace and security themed “Strengthening women’s role in building and sustaining peace: from commitments to results” which opened on December 7 evening.

The three-day conference is organised in the in-person format in Hanoi and via video conference in over 70 nations.

Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung said that women play an important role in each country’s social life, in national building and development, as well as in conflict prevention and peace maintenance.

In 1960s, the role of women was upheld and became one of the topics of the UN and international forums, with a focus on protecting the rights of women and children during wars and conflicts.

In 2000, the UN Security Council for the first time approved a resolution on the role of women for peace and security, which heightens their role in conflict prevention and peace building, Trung stated.

He added that this is also the first time Vietnam has organised an international conference within the framework of Vietnam’s activities at the UN, which draws the participation of more than 400 Vietnamese and foreign delegates, including three UN Under-Secretary-Generals.

The conference is of great significance as it takes place on the occasion of the 75th founding anniversary of the UN, 25 years of the approval of the Beijing Programme of Action on Gender Equality, and 20 years of the approval of the UNSC’s Resolution on Women, Peace and Security.

According to him, Vietnam and its women have been appreciated by the international community for their special role in nation building and peacekeeping missions, particularly Vietnamese women’s engagement in the UN’s activities.

Vietnam has actively participated in negotiations between countries and discussed with others to form international documents related to gender equality as well as programmes of actions.

When it was a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the first time in 2008-2009, it initiated a resolution on the role of women in the post-war period which was approved by UNSC members, Trung said, adding that this was also the council’s first resolution in this field.

The plenary Session 2 & 3 will be held from 4PM (GMT+7 Hanoi time) on December 8, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Minh Duc

Ambassador Nguyen Nguyet Nga, Senior Advisor to the ASEAN 2020 National Secretariat and Vietnam’s representative at the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR), said that the role of women in international peace and security protection is urgent and crucial more than ever.

Today’s women play an important role in policymaking and in UN peacekeeping missions.

Besides measures to solve conflicts, countries should pay attention to educating peace culture and building trust, and women have advantage in these issues, added Nga.

Vietnam’s leadership in drafting UN Security Council resolution 1889 (2009) calling for mainstreaming gender perspectives in all decision-making processes, especially in the early stages of recovery and peacebuilding, has been a critical foundation for furthering support women participation in peacebuilding on the ground. Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and rights must be put at the core of all approaches to conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict recovery efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and impacted the work of women peacebuilding practitioners, who have been taking on new roles to safeguard peacebuilding gains and contribute to longer-term post-pandemic recovery.

The conference will reinforce the key messages of the report of the UN Secretary-General to the UN Security Council during annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security on 29 October 2020, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of its landmark resolution 1325.

The report provides a review of the progress of the last 20 years of implementation of the women, peace and security agenda and outlines five goals to realize inclusive and sustainable peace in the next decade. These five goals will provide a key feature for the discussions during the conference, which seeks to contribute to creating a clear pathway forward in furthering implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

Tu Anh