Last month, United Nations leaders said that women continue to be underrepresented in key decision-making opportunities on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security.
This landmark resolution in 2000 confirmed the importance of women participating in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction, the UN noted.
But UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says that there is a need for the global community to recommit itself to including women in peacebuilding processes today.
Between 1992 and 2019, only 13% of negotiators, 6% of mediators, and 6% of peace agreement signatories around the world were women, Mlambo-Ngcuka said at a Security Council meeting. However, research from UN Women shows that the chances of peace agreements lasting more than two years increase by 20% when women participate in the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the importance of involving women in conflict and crisis management.
Studies show that women are most affected by COVID-19 and often bear the brunt of economic disasters and conflicts around the world. During the pandemic, women are more at risk as they are on the front lines of medical aid and are more likely to work in industries impacted by shutdowns.
"Women are still systematically excluded, confined to informal processes, or relegated to the role of spectators, while men sit in the rooms that will define their lives and decide their future," Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
Around the world, women have been serving as the frontline responders on the local level in their communities. Their work as doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers, and in other important industries, has been vital in keeping communities, economies, and societies running amid the pandemic.
"We have seen the remarkable success that many women leaders have had in containing the pandemic while supporting people’s livelihoods," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a speech last month. "This confirms an obvious truth: institutions, organizations, companies, and yes, governments work better when they include half of society, rather than ignoring it."
To try and develop meaningful participation and engagement among women peacebuilders, UN Women outlines five goals.
Some of the goals include reversing the upward trajectory in global military spending, allocating 15% of official development assistance to advancing gender equality, and unconditionally defending women’s rights around the world.
Disclosure: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka joined Global Citizen's board of directors in 2021, after this story was published.