The following post was submitted by Sawako Sonoyama. Sawako is working in our office this year and she, along with several other students, will be contributing posts throughout the year.
10 years ago, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1325 that focused on increased representation of women in the Security Council. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction.
This resolution marks the first time the Security Council has recognized the link between the security of women and peace. This is a landmark because the Security Council finally understands the ability of women to take on two roles: “victim” of Conflict and “change agents” of Peace.
10 years have passed. How have we done? Five speakers convened at SIPA today on a panel for the UN Studies Program and spoke on this issue from their various issues:
- Atul Khare, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations.
- Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary General for Peace Building Support to the Peace Building Commission, and SIPA Alumna.
- Betty Achan Ogwaro, Chairperson of Sudanese Women Forum of Darfur, Southern Sudan
- Barbara Crossette, former NYT Foreign Correspondent and journalist.
- Juergen Heissel from the UN Security Council Peace Austrian Peace Keeping Mission
The panel started with an interesting debate surrounding the information gap in conflict zone. Mr. Heissel gave a brief history of the Security Council’s evolution in working with women in conflict zone. The problem that persists today is still the information gap. There is no consistent and comprehensive way to report on acts of violence against women in armed conflict. There is no way to measure how much we have made progress. There needs to be a more concrete data so evidence based policy making could be deployed to helping these women on the ground.
However, Ms. Ogwaro responded by saying that the Council will never have enough data. Too many times, there were women dishonored, hurt, and killed in front of the eyes of a Peace Keeping officer. The numbers are there, however, the mandates are not matching what needs to be done to help women in conflict. Furthermore, why will a Sudanese women be able to provide data when they are too busy protecting their lives and the lives of their children?
Finally, SIPA alumni Ms. Cheng-Hopkins provided a strict remark on the progress made. After 10 years, 3% of negotiators and 0% of mediators in conflict zones are women. To improve these numbers, she recommended that at least 15% of post-conflict aid budgets should be endorsing women and peace building. There is much more work to be done in incorporating women into peace building.