Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

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Corona and human security

The ongoing pandemic must be a call not to cut back on women’s rights but instead to step up the demand for rights, representation and resources in order to guarantee women’s protection and participation before, during and after the crisis.

During crisis the first victim is women’s rights. Unfortunately, we and our partner organisations and analysts around the world see the same thing happening just now. What we can see is an increase in sexual and gender-based violence, child marriages, honour-based violence, discriminating laws and practice. There is dramatic decline of women’s right to equality, socio-economic self-determination and participation in peace and security.[1] 

Women’s peace-building and conflict-prevention is now ignored, halted or reversed. If a global cease-fire is not kept, like in Yemen, attacks on civilians continue unabated even when media is not covering to casualty count. Peace negotiations cannot take place if travel and meetings is restricted. Women political leaders have fewer financial opportunities in already stretched budgets. Women’s informal peace work like international women’s day have been cut. Negotiating with prison guards or at check-points is impossible during the pandemic. Women’s right to make up half of security forces and take decision’s about security budgeting are now nonexistent priorities. The pandemic-response risks to fall back into traditional security definitions marginalizing women, despite the need for inclusive security and resilience.[2] A crisis response which is not gender-sensitive and excludes civil society leaders risks to be inefficient. It ignores the experiences from countries like Democratic Republic of Congo where the lack of trust in authorities prevented efficient medical response to a virus spread. Meaningful community and women’s engagement are key.[3] 

Less priority to women’s rights and participation in decision-making means there is less of women’s perspectives.[4] When states use militaristic terms calling for an open-ended state of emergency, then women, disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not included. The defense of democracy, freedom of speech and of media is demobilized leaving the field free for cyber threat and control of individuals’ movements and actions. When a society allows the dismantling of protection of individual fundamental freedoms then the authoritarian practices increase causing distrust in state institutions. The disastrous consequences during the pandemic is unscientific or fake medical information including to sexual and gender-based health care and rights.[5]

Women make up 70% of the world’s health care and care work, both paid and un-paid, and are essential in the crisis-response. The increase of domestic violence and threats to sexual and gender-based health and rights during the ongoing corona pandemic is a fact. In Albania women fear to receive less protection by the state due to economic recess and there will be more victims of intimate partner violence without chances of getting help in women shelters or from security sector. Sweden, and possibly other countries too, has taken this into account by early on increasing its support to free help-lines and women’s shelters managed by women-driven civil society organisations.[6] Mitigation of the gendered effects of the pandemic is probably one of reasons to keep schools open as much as possible, to keep public transport running and to save the economy from deep depression.

Women’s rights are the first victims when the pandemic is fought with the means for long-term development cooperation.[7] The humanitarian aid given without the gender-analysis and conflict analysis risks not to consider disadvantaged groups, like single headed-households in a war zone, sexual minorities and women who are disadvantaged due to age. Now we need more power to women for building inclusive human security.

Recommendations: 

·        Include women and civil society in planning the crisis response to the corona pandemic so that it is based on inclusive human security and will stand better chances to have impact in societies where a lack of trust in authorities have prevented efficient health, immigrants in Swedish suburbs from conflict-affected regions or communities in conflict and under occupation

·        Increase gender-integrated and conflict-sensitive peace-building. Use increased prevalence in domestic violence, repression of SRHR, violations against fundamental freedoms and rights as early-warning indicators of armed conflict

·        Provide human security by ensuring that when armed forces collaborate with civilian medical staff and community-based volunteers in the crisis response they respect humanitarian principles, human rights and care especially for disadvantaged groups with an intersectional perspective

·        Strengthen political, diplomatic peace processes and share international funds for medical and humanitarian supplies in a way demonstrating solidarity in crisis building trust and a basis for peace and security dialogue

 

Operation 1325, Sweden

Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy, Palestine

Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center, Palestine

SES Equality and Solidarity Platform, Turkey

Arab Sisters for Human Rights, Yemen

All Girls Foundation for Development, Yemen

Shoqata Grave Women Association Social Problems, Albania

 

 

 

[1] https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2020/policy-brief-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-en.pdf?la=en&vs=1406

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/02/un-secretary-general-coronavirus-crisis-world-pandemic-response

[3] https://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/womens-rights-security-councils-response-to-covid-19/

[4] https://icanpeacework.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/How-are-Women-Peacebuilders-Responding-to-Covid-19-WASL-call-April-2-2020.pdf

[5] https://eploblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/covid-19-and-conflicts-views-from-peacebuilders/

[6] https://www.jamstalldhetsmyndigheten.se/aktuellt/coronapandemin

[7] https://www.omvarlden.se/Branschnytt/nyheter-2020/enprocentsmalet-kommer-att-ifragasattas-an-mer/