Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

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Julle Bergenholtz has a Bachelor degree in Development Communication and will intern at Operation 1325 this spring. Recently, he interned at the National Council for Swedish Youth Organizations.
FOTO: Privat

The mission for women’s rights – a mission for everyone

When I tell my friends and family that I as a 22 year old man will have an internship this spring at Operation 1325, the reactions I get differ greatly. “Isn’t that something only for women to work on” and “but you are a man” are examples of comments that I have received, and probably will continue to receive during the course of the internship. I, however, disagree.

For the work regarding Resolution 1325 and similar initiatives for women’s rights to be successful, I strongly argue that it is necessary for men to realize that this is a cause that we should work for as well. This specific point is where I see my biggest challenge this spring, and I hope that my engagement in Operation 1325 will raise the question regarding the role of men in the work for a gender equal society.

Where is the actual women’s perspective?

During the last three years, I have studied a Communications program with special focus on Peace and Developmental issues. Through my studies, I have noticed that there are far too many structures in the world that limit specific groups of people. It may be Muslims, homosexuals, Romani people, Jews, democratic activists… The list goes on forever. Another group that is also an apparent member in this body is unfortunately women, and not only practical settings. In my education concerning development, it was often talked about the importance of having a gender perspective in conflict resolution and advocacy, but the actual methods of doing this was never brought up.

After a while, I understood why. When it is possible, the work concerning gender perspectives and women’s rights is not prioritized, with the argument that there are more important matters at hand. It is all about talking the talk, but not walking the walk, but above all a structural exclusion of all the innovations that women can be a part of.

Global issue

We commonly claim that Sweden is the most gender equal country in the world. Good for us, but considering that we live in a society where women get less pay for the same job, have less political power than men, have a harder time entering into executive positions and is constantly discriminated it is nothing to celebrate. Instead, it is nothing less than a scandal that the leading country in gender equality has not come further.

And it is not only in Sweden that there are measures that need to be addressed. In India, where I lived for four months during 2011, women are not seen as the resource that they in reality are, especially not in conflict and peace related work. Even at the Peace and Conflict centre where I lived, that specifically focuses on conflict resolution between different Indian tribes and people, skillful women in the working force is seen upon as a threat by the male employees.

The goal: a stronger awareness

It is with this foundation that I without hesitation enter the struggle to strengthen women’s rights and participation in peace related processes. If I can inspire people, with special emphasis on men, to critically examine what gender equality should look like and how the amazing resource that women are should be included in peace and conflict situations, it would be a great stride in raising the awareness regarding Resolution 1325. In order to reach that, we still have a long way to go, but through working together as a joint force, I am certain that the future of the work surrounding the resolution is promising.

Julle Bergenholtz