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In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in United Nations Security Council resolutions on the role of women in matters of peace and security.

In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in United Nations Security Council resolutions on the role of women in matters of peace and security. A researcher of peace and conflict argues that resolution 1325 continues to be viewed as a women’s issue and not as a matter of peace and security. 

Angela Ndinga-Muvumba is a PhD-candidate at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Uppsala. She participated at a recent seminar at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research in Uppsala that addressed the achievements and challenges of realising resolution 1325, viewed in the light of its 11-year anniversary.

1325 as a political tool

Resolution 1325 and other related UNSC resolutions have offered women all over the world a political tool to push for inclusion in matters of peace and security, an important achievement, according to Angela Ndinga-Muvumba, “In Africa many governments failed women in peace processes but it seems a lot of them have learned from their mistakes and started providing more and more opportunities for women. This is certainly the case in Rwanda where women now represent more than 50 percent of parliament”, she says.

Important to analyse how power affects gender

At the same time, she warns UN resolutions relating to women, peace and security have helped sustain traditional gender structures. By focusing only on how war affects women, proponents of the women’s security agenda have missed important opportunities to address how power affects gender – and in the context of war –can lead to inequalities in participation and protection.  

“It’s very difficult to implement 1325 if we’re only working with women’s issues. For gender mainstreaming to be effective it is important to change power structures related to gender and to address issues that affect both men and women”, Ndinga-Muvumba argues.

Women’s representation in politics does not necessarily lead to a change in power structures. On the contrary, empirical evidence suggests that power structures producing gender inequality oftentimes remain unchanged. As a consequence, these power structures only reproduce violence and inequality.

“Therefore gender mainstreaming must be integrated in every aspect of society. Such an approach may include for example introducing a gender perspective in military and police training,” Ndinga-Muvumba says. 

Sexualised violence affects both men and women

Also, the problem of sexualised violence is generally considered to be a women’s issue, Ndinga-Muvumba claims. In fact, research and policy has focused primarily on sexual violence against women. But Ndinga-Muvumba points out that we often forget that men are also victims of sexualised violence, both in war and peace. 

We should also look at the ways in which men are harmed by patriarchal structures. Ndinga-Muvumba suggests that we redefine our concept of gendered violence as it deals with more than merely men raping women; it is also common that men force boys and men to become sexual perpetrators in armed conflict. The focus should be on analysing the power structures that transform innocent boys from victims to perpetrators. The question is how we can combat these structures that reproduce violence and inequality. 

1325 still viewed as a woman’s agenda

Finally, a serious challenge to achieving the goals with resolution 1325 is to make national governments consider the implementation of 1325 as urgent. Today, the PhD candidate claims, the resolution 1325 is viewed as a women’s agenda, not a matter of peace and security. 

Ndinga-Muvumba’s final recommendation to the UN and national governments is to view the issue of gender mainstreaming, not as a long-term agenda but as an issue that requires time and resources today.

Oriana Ramirez