The scarcity of women in peace negotiations | Roma Bhattacharjea

06 Mar 2013

women with voting cards Women in Liquica District in Timor Leste hold up their voter registration cards as they wait to participate in Timor-Leste's 2012 Parliamentary Elections. (Photo: Louise Stoddard/UNDP Timor Leste)

Women are often disproportionately affected by conflict and violence; the time has come to give them a greater role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

I recently had the honor of visiting Washington DC to participate in the launch of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, & Security, an initiative focused less on women as victims and more on involving them integrally in peace-building and conflict prevention.

I have worked on these issues for two decades—and these are exciting times.

UNSC Resolution 1325, adopted in October 2000, marked a major evolution from a world in which peace negotiations have long comprised men with guns pardoning other men with guns for crimes all sides committed against women.

In December 2011, US President Barack Obama issued a US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security cutting across the executive and legislative branches of the US government, with the aim of accelerating and institutionalizing the women, peace, and security agenda.

UNDP is a key player in advancing inclusive governance, inclusive economic recovery, rule of law and access to justice, notably for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

UNDP also works in some 80 crisis countries, where we advance women, peace, and security on the ground. We have designed and led a large senior gender advisor program in 10 countries: South Sudan, Liberia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Iraq, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Haiti. We have seen significant results.

Around the world, we often do under-the-radar, sensitive work to help defuse conflicts before they become violent, incorporating women at every level. After conflicts or crises, we support short-term emergency employment. We created 5.4 million workdays last year and we aim always to ensure at least 40 percent of beneficiaries are women.

In 2013, we face a whole new set of challenges, many of them arising from resource scarcity, climate changes, economic crises, and ethnic and political unrest. Violence against women, we are continually reminded, remains rampant in many countries and perpetrators often go unpunished. Women must play a role in addressing all of these issues.

World leaders are now engaged, but we can and must do so much more. The new initiative at Georgetown marks yet another milestone on what remains a long road ahead.

Talk to us: Why do you think it is important to get women into peace talks and how can this be achieved?

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