The Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that urges United Nations (UN) member states to commit to implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda by ensuring and promoting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.
Resolution 2493 builds on the historic resolution 1325 adopted in 2000 that acknowledged the disproportionate impact armed conflict had on women and girls and called for the adoption of a gender perspective in conflict resolution to prevent violations of women’s rights and to support women’s participation in peace negotiations.
Consensus around the table and a victory for South Africa that struggled, but eventually succeeded in forging agreement on the text.
International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor says, “Women are tired of us talking; women want action; women want change. It is within this context that we, as South Africa, saw it fit to present a resolution that is focused on the full implementation of the women peace and security agenda. The resolution recognises that although there has been progress there is still a great deal that we must do.”
The momentum is building towards 2020 when the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 will be observed, in addition to the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action and the UN’s 75th anniversary.
“Given such strong support and common understanding, an observer might be forgiven for thinking that things are substantially improving. But the sad fact is – and we must be blunt about it – the commitment that is always reflected around this table is not translating into real change around the world. It is not coming fast enough or far enough. Change is coming at a pace that is too slow for the women and girls whose lives depend on it, and for the effectiveness of our efforts to maintain international peace and security,” says UN Chief Antonio Guterres.
Women continue to face exclusion from peace and political processes. Peace agreements are adopted without gender sensitive provisions and just 0.2% of bilateral aid goes to women’s organisations in fragile and conflict affected situations.
UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says, “From 1990 to 2018, less than 20% of peace agreements included provisions addressing women on gender and last year, none of the agreements reached in UN-led processes included provisions addressing women. The UN-led processes are also supported by member states so together we have a responsibility to do better than this.”
Civil society was represented by this 22-year-old student and anti-government protester from Sudan Alaa Salah, who was the subject of iconic picture of a woman draped in white, standing on the roof of a car in Khartoum, addressing pro-democracy protestors earlier in 2019.
“There is no excuse for us (not) to have an equal seat at every single table. If we are not represented at the peace table and if we do not have a meaningful voice in parliament, our rights will not be guaranteed and discriminatory and restrictive laws will remain unchanged, continuing the cycle of instability and violence. After decades of struggle and all that we have risked to peacefully end Bashir’s dictatorship, gender inequality is not and will never be acceptable to the women and girls of Sudan.”
Chairing the meeting, Minister Pandor has urged her counterparts to devote a greater focus on why they’ve been so many shortcomings and failures in pursuit of agreed objectives on the women, peace and security file.
“Our contributions all indicate that we know, what must be done. Perhaps we need to devote a greater focus on why we are failing to act in pursuit of agreed objectives. Once we’ve identified the real barriers, we probably will then begin to make greater progress.”
Countries were also urged to adopt National Action Plans on the matter with officials hoping to have at least 50% of member states agree to such plans ahead of 1325’s 20th anniversary next October.
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