Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

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The inauguration of the Nordic Armed Forces Gender Centre praised women's participation in peace processes. Despite that, no woman was seen on stage.
FOTO: Nicole Bianchi

An excluding gender family?

The 24th of January, the Swedish Armed Forces launched the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, a center with the mission of strengthening the competence in gender issues for the Nordic countries. In connection with the inauguration a workshop was held with representatives from the Nordic Armed Forces, the EU, the UN, OSSE and NATO, jointly given the title “the gender family”.

The goal with the workshop was to produce guidelines for future cooperation with regards to Resolution 1325. A great day with great events, the Swedish Armed Forces claimed. However, the lack of involved women in the inauguration and absence of civil society in the gender family was what the largest reactions from Operation 1325.

The fact that the Nordic Armed Forces have realized the importance of a gender perspective in conflict areas is a step in the right direction. In order for Resolution 1325 to get the impact it deserves, a priority like this is welcome. It is necessary in order to shine a light on the Resolution, and crucial for Resolution 1325 to be realized both in Sweden and the world.

Where are women as actors?

It is therefore highly important to review what is really behind how the Swedish Armed Forces put forward the centre’s work. During the inauguration, women as actors in the field of the Swedish Armed Forces were barely touched upon. Also, there were only men that talked about the center during the entire inauguration, and instead of focusing on women as leaders and actors, the majority of the speeches were about protecting women as victims. As a result, no women in leading positions spoke during the inauguration, and to claim that the audience was dominated by men is not an exaggeration. The Swedish Armed Forces claim that women and a gender perspective are integral parts of their work. If that is the case, why aren’t actors within those groups put forward?

What is the gender family?

The fact that civil society organizations with years of experience within the field of Resolution 1325 are not included in the gender family is a mystery. The knowledge and tools that organizations with experiences in women’s roles in peace and democracy issues possess are invaluable, and should be treated as such. Civil society should also be attractive for newly introduced actors within the sphere of Resolution 1325, as the Swedish Armed Forces is. Operation 1325 is therefore critical of the approach that the Center has taken, having only state and interstate bodies present in the gender family.

What should be done?

Considering the situation, Operation 1325 hereby present three recommendations to the Swedish Armed Forces new establishment, in order for the work of the Centre to progress and make a difference.

  • Make room for women. Investing in a centre with a gender perspective is good, but in order for it to receive credibility, it is crucial for women to be put forward as equal actors with men. According to the Swedish national action plan for Resolution 1325, organizations that are dominated by men must work actively with strengthening women and raising opportunities for female leadership. It is therefore necessary that the Swedish Armed Forces analyze this climate internally, and ensures that it not only talks about a gender perspective, they also act out of one.
  • Cooperate over borders. Even if the centre is an initiative from the Nordic Armed Forces, which has a responsibility as an authoritative body to work with Resolution 1325, the effects of the work should not necessarily only be visible there. By including Operation 1325 and similar organizations in the so called gender family, the work with Resolution 1325 can be enriched and developed, nationally and internationally.
  • Don’t only work in conflict related areas. Women in conflict affected countries live in a difficult environment, which is strongly portrayed by the lack of progress for women’s rights after the Arab Spring. The needs in regions with similar situations are therefore dire, and necessary to work with. However, in order to work with Resolution 1325 in a credible way, it is crucial to examine your own country’s situation through a 1325 lens. What can be done in Sweden and the other Nordic countries, in civil society and the Armed Forces, for Resolution 1325 to be adapted further? For Sweden and the Nordic region to be countries in the forefront when it comes to Resolution 1325 adaptation, it is therefore necessary to look at possible initiatives at a national level from the new centre.

Twelve years ago, Resolution 1325 was adopted by the UN Security Council, and today, there is still a lot of work to be done in order for the resolution to be realized. The gender family must therefore be developed into a network where more actors than state bodies are represented.