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12/09/2013

Operation 1325, what does it mean? The most frequent question I have got since I received the exciting news that I will carry out my internship at Operation 1325 has been what 1325 means. This question is perhaps not that surprising, since you unfortunately don’t hear a lot about it through media for example. Still, I do find it quite alarming. It is also somewhat motivating as this is exactly what Operation 1325 works for – to spread knowledge about this important resolution. It affects us all, women and men, of the entire world.

My interest for questions surrounding peace and conflict began in my childhood years when I, together with my entire family, moved to Israel for two years due to my father’s UN-service. As a 10-year old I could not understand why the Israelis and Palestinians could not cooperate. I wish I could say that age has made me wiser and that I could answer this question today, but to this day I still ask myself the same question. Not only when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but other conflicts in the world as well. To cite the Red Cross Youth in Sweden: “Love and respect – is it that d*mn difficult?” Yes, apparently it is!

I’m currently enrolled in a Masters Program focusing on Peace- and Conflict studies at Uppsala University, where I during the last couple of years have not only gained a deeper understanding for the causes of conflict, but also what a potential solution might look like. There is no simple, exclusive solution that works for all conflicts, but a general recipe is that women’s influence contributes as an invaluable ingredient at the peace negotiating table. Women and civil society actors do not only contribute to a more long-term peace – they also increase the legitimacy of the process. Studies show that if women are allowed to take greater part in the political sphere, chances are that they will introduce legislation promoting education, healthcare and an end to violence against women to a higher degree than men. This can be observed in for example Rwanda, where the high quota of women in the political arena has led to legislation strengthening women’s rights in terms of inheritance rights, discrimination – and rape crimes.

These changes are not only critical in the political sphere but also in the field. Operation 1325 works, among other things, to educate people in the field, such as the military and police, about the gravity of including women before, during, and after a peace process. Awareness is a central factor in terms of peacekeeping operations, and if field personnel and their commanders are not aware of the importance of resolution 1325 and the power relations in the country they are in, it is unlikely that their behavior will promote and spread a healthy gender relation sensitivity  in their strive for peace.

Operation 1325 works, through advocacy and education, to spread knowledge about questions surrounding women, peace, and security, and I feel privileged and proud to be part of their work. My dream is that organizations such as Operation 1325 will not be necessary, that it is self-evident that resolution 1325 is fully implemented all over the world. I am excited to see what the future may hold when it comes to equality issues.

Cecilia Karlberg
Intern, Operation 1325