It is twenty years since the Security Council unanimously adopted UN Resolution 1325. This acknowledged the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and girls. It also called for increased participation of women at all levels of decision making during the peace process. To quote – “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. It stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security”.
Till this point, it was as if not only war, but also peace making are men’s worlds, despite the established fact that women bear heavily the consequences of both. The effective participation of women in peace processes holds an irrefutably instrumental value for it brings to the table the women’s inherent experiences, perspectives and interests.
For Soroptimists it is heartening to know that this year the work of women on the frontlines of the conflict zones has been duly acknowledged. More importantly that the awardees have been relentlessly advocating and training warring factions to abide by gender sensitive actions.
UN Peacekeeping Day on May 29th brought laurels for Major Suman Gawani, an Indian Army officer and a Military Observer formerly deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). She received the 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award along with Brazilian Navy Officer Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo. The latter serves as the military Gender and Protection Advisor to the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Both Officers have conducted training on gender and protection and mentored UN Military Observers on conflict-related sexual violence. The Officers also sought to increase the number of gender-responsive patrols engaging with local communities.
Commending the two women peacekeepers, UN chief António Guterres described them as powerful role models: “Through their work, they have brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities we serve”, he said. “Through their commitment and innovative approaches, they embrace a standard of excellence that is an inspiration to all blue helmets everywhere. As we confront today’s challenges, their work has never been more important or relevant.”
The presence of women peace makers in conflict areas often mitigates the violence and helps conservative communities to be more forth coming. Often, they become inspirational role models for the women and girls in those very communities. The likely hood of sustainable peace, reconciliation and reconstruction post settlement is higher.
Women’s representation in the peace process and in the UN Peacekeeping Forces was minimal, but has grown with the support of Member States and the push of civil society organizations for a full implementation of SC1325.
Assistant Programme Director Peace