Women’s organisations should deepen their cooperation with government agencies and the media. The gap between international missions and civil society must be bridged.
Women’s organisations should deepen their cooperation with government agencies and the media. The gap between international missions and civil society must be bridged. These are conclusions from the conference ”Security on the Ground” in which women’s organisations from three conflict areas met Swedish agencies with key roles in peace missions.
The conference, held between November 16-18 was attended by women’s rights activists from Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Sudan and representatives from Swedish authorities. The goal was to identify ways to measure and methods to integrate resolution 1325 into a broader security agenda.
Important to educate government agencies and the media
There were many participants that raised the need for increased collaboration between women’s organisations and actors that are not normally involved in work with the resolution. Sundus Abbas, a political scientist from Iraq was among those who highlighted the issue.
– It is extremely important to work with actors within the military, judiciary and the media. You need to give them information and training on the resolution and then you can also give them guidelines on how to best strengthen women’s participation, said Sundus Abbas.
The idea is to teach these actors how to apply resolution 1325 in their work so that in the long run they can educate other key actors in the same way.
– Right now important institutions such as the judiciary have very little knowledge of the resolution, which makes it difficult to implement resolution 1325 in Iraq, said Dhuha Al-Ameri, who works as a legal counsel for victims of violence.
Women’s organisations still stigmatised in many countries
At the same time, the women were aware of the challenge that such an initiative would entail. An opinion that most participants shared was that national authorities would probably be hesitant to accept training by women’s organisations. It is simply a question of legitimacy and those involved in women’s organisations are still stigmatised in many countries. Therefore, many participants believed that national authorities would feel more willing to take 1325-training if international missions invited them.
Another highlighted need was increased dialogue between international missions and civil society organisations. International missions have much to gain from consulting local women in their 1325 work. One of the conclusions from the first day was that international missions should always build their work on the experience and expertise that already exists in local civil society. A common problem is that local populations lack confidence in international organisations, and that international organisations lack both contact with and knowledge of the needs of the local population.
Better contacts and ties to the local population
During the second day of the conference, representatives from Swedish authorities formulated the needs of international missions. Among other things, they emphasised the need for better contacts and ties to the local population as well as a deeper understanding of the culture and situation of women. To satisfy these needs, many Swedish government officials stressed that international missions must identify problems and solutions together with women’s organisations.
In addition to the jointly formulated need for more contacts between women’s organisations and international missions, these needs were also highlighted at the conference:
- for international missions to put pressure on the state and local authorities to support women’s organisations
- for international missions to offer civil society support when it comes to capacity building in the form of technology and logistics, among other things