Women peace-builders develop alternate strategies to participate in conflict resolution processes
Washington, January 17, 2018—Women’s participation is critical to achieving sustainable peace, and yet women remain underrepresented in peacemaking efforts in Myanmar and Ukraine. A new analysis highlights the roles and strategies of women’s civil society organizations as they seek to contribute to peace.
The report by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, financed by the Government of Sweden, draws on field interviews with more than 80 civil society leaders and government officials to reveal how women are working to overcome their traditional exclusion from decision-making processes.
“If we know what tools are best advancing women’s meaningful participation in peacemaking, such as those represented in the experiences in Myanmar and Ukraine, we can apply these lessons without borders, helping to end conflict and build sustainable peace in other cases,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
“The idea of reaching a lasting peace agreement that doesn’t reflect the needs and desires of half the population is woefully out of date. When women actively participate in peace processes, the outcomes are more legitimate and sustainable,” said Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States. “The women, peace and security agenda is a key priority for Sweden during our current two-year membership in the UN Security Council. The valuable research from Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security will support our efforts in this regard.”
In Ukraine, women are largely excluded from the official, ongoing peace process. However, the report highlights other ways in which women contribute to peace: as elected officials in local and national government, as leaders of dialogues to advance reconciliation, as collectors of vital gender-disaggregated data, and as providers of humanitarian aid and services.
Some women leverage Ukraine’s National Action Plan (NAP) on women, peace and security—the first ever to be developed during an ongoing conflict—to advance their roles. However, as the NAP is new and implementation is challenging, women have tapped into national policies and foreign policy goals, particularly Ukraine’s desire to integrate into the European Union, as a means to further advance gender-sensitive policies.
Amidst the continuing ethnic conflicts in Myanmar, women are active peacebuilders: encouraging cease-fires, monitoring cease-fire implementation, engaging in political dialogue, and advising peace process stakeholders. Some serve as conduits between officials and women on the ground, while others collect data and build the capacity of women leaders in the peace process. Women peacebuilders are utilizing international frameworks like CEDAW and UNSCR 1325 (rather than Myanmar’s National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women) to raise awareness and mobilize support for women’s rights. They leverage gender quotas and back-channel discussions and personal relationships to advocate for increased participation of women in the peace process.