On the sidelines of the annual Security Council Open Debate, signatories for the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action urged increased cooperation from the highest levels of policymaking to the grassroots, to ensure full protection and participation for women and girls in conflict and crisis.
Held on October 27, and welcoming 240 participants, the Compact’s side event marked the 21st anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which recognizes the vital role of women in international peace and security. It was hosted by the Permanent Missions of Sierra Leone, Norway and Mexico to the UN, the African Union–Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), and UN Women.
Reflecting the Compact’s multistakeholder and global nature, the event featured regionally focused discussions with representatives from Member States, regional organizations, the United Nations, Compact Board and Catalytic members, practitioners in the fields of women, peace and security (WPS) and humanitarian action, as well as women and youth peacebuilders working on the frontlines of conflict and humanitarian emergencies.
As part of a five-year push for gender equality, the Compact intends to reshape peace and security and humanitarian action processes to systematically include women and girls in the decisions that impact their lives. More than 150 signatories have joined the Compact since its launch in July at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, France.
Women and girls face mounting crisis
In her opening remarks, UN Women Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous urged the international community to sign onto the Compact and tackle mounting challenges to gender-equality. “We can no longer wait to implement the WPS agenda and gender responsive humanitarian action. Over the last 15 years, the number of protracted crises has more than doubled with over one billion people directly affected, 51 per cent of whom are women and girls,” she said.
Panel discussions during the event heard from regions across the world including Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the wider international community.
Many of the participants noted the invisibility of women and girls in the design and implementation of peacekeeping operations, as well as emergency response plans.
“We are working to transform the humanitarian system into one that is accessible and accountable to women and marginalized groups. For too long, we, as humanitarians and women’s rights organizations, have been ignored and excluded by the humanitarian system,” said Mimidoo Achakpa, Steering Committee Member of the Feminist Humanitarian Network and National Coordinator of the Women in Humanitarian Response in Nigeria Initiative Network.
Women must determine their economic and development needs
The Compact side event also heard from young women peacebuilders including Thinzar Shunlei Yi, member of Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar who spoke of the Compact’s importance for women on the frontlines of conflict and crisis.
“There is a human rights and a peace and security crisis in Myanmar. If the Compact doesn’t work for our country, I don’t know what will. It gives us the opportunity to amplify the voices of women and girls on the ground to take effective action, and to talk directly to policymakers in the international sphere,” she said.
Speaking from Yemen, where women are facing a complex war and humanitarian crisis, Najiba Al Naggar from the SOS Center for Youth Capabilities Development echoed these sentiments: “It is a must that women be the ones who determine their economic and development needs. Political leadership must provide them with the funds to do so and encourage their participation.”
Many of the speakers also shared resources and tools which they hope will address the concerns raised by women peacebuilders and human rights defenders during the event. Lisa Williams, Senior Analyst on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the OECD, announced the organization’s efforts on data analysis and tracking of women, peace and security agendas which will support Compact signatories on strategic financial investment. Mavic Cabrera Balleza of GNWP shared a series of case studies examining the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.
The shared expertise of signatories is a unique feature of the Compact’s design, which recognizes that after 21 years of mostly siloed efforts from the international community, commitments on women, peace and security and humanitarian action are still far from being met. The Compact Framework, which was created by diverse stakeholders from governments, regional and international organizations, UN entities, academia, women’s and youth organizations, and the private sector, intends to unite efforts, scale up data and resources, and improve monitoring and accountability.
“Women face significant risks and adversity because of the work in their communities to prevent violence, address conflict, and as first responders and unpaid caregivers at home,” said Manty Tarawalli, Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs of Sierra Leone. “The Compact Framework provides us with a roadmap to ensure that our girls and women globally are protected in line with Resolution 1325.” Watch the Compact Side Event on Resolution 1325.