This week's editor
Mandela: the global icon
Can women make a difference in resolving conflict and building peace? UN Resolution 1325 says yes - give them decision-making power to do just that! On its fifth anniversary, openDemocracy asks, what has it achieved?
See also our multi-authored, global blog on the subject.
Statement by Israeli Women's Organizations
We women's organizations from a broad spectrum of political views demand an end to the bombing and other tools of death, and call for the immediate start of deliberations to talk peace and not make war. The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence a strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security - personal, economic, and social.
Twenty-two parties recently signed a document making proposals for Armenia's electoral code, to broaden women's access to politics. It suggests a 25 percent quota for women in party lists, up from the current provision of only 3 percent. But the chances of any real change emerging may be slim, given lack of support from two of the largest factions in government.
Events are moving so fast in Nepal that Lily Thapa decided to leave London early. With a Code of Conduct being drawn up between the new government coalition and the Maoist insurgents, as she says, "If they need me and my experience, I will be there!" So far the Maoist negotiators have one woman on their team: the government, none. She is not convinced this will change.
Since the first two years following the invasion of Iraq, when many women attained positions of political power and recognition, Iraqi women have seen a dramatic reversal in their fortunes. For a recent high-level international conference at Wilton Park on women's participation in peace-building and decision-making, Iraq is a crucial case where United Nations Resolution 1325 should be making a difference to women's involvement in security and politics. But Hanaa Edwar Busha, one of the founders of the Iraqi Women's Network (IWN), describes a constant struggle on the ground, from obstruction at the highest political levels to violence and intimidation in the streets.
One of a dozen or so grassroots activists who have flown in to bring firsthand expertise, Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls has travelled twenty hours from Fiji to Sussex for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's historic conference on UN Resolution 1325 for women's participation in conflict resolution and decision-making – the first event of its kind the Foreign Office has hosted on gender issues. Currently secretary of Fiji's National Council of Women, Sharon has worked with many organisations over the years, to include women in Fiji's political life and tap their contribution to peace.
Maysoon al-Damluji was sitting in a Bayswater coffee-shop, being hailed and hugged by a succession of friends, when Rosemary Bechler met her for this interview. Their greetings had the air of a conversation satisfactorily regained after a short, frustrating interruption. But there was nothing brief about it.
Rosemary Bechler would like to thank the Foreign Policy Centre and the Barrow Cadbury Trust for a chance to meet Senator Mobina Jaffer and others at the Global Exchange Forum: Understanding Women's Social Capital and spend the day at that interesting event
When I met Senator Mobina Jaffer at the Global Exchange Forum, this small-built, demure lady ate her lunch while giving rapid, comprehensive answers to my questions without any sign of strain. Here was a redoubtable multi-tasker, I thought. Born in Uganda, Mobina Jaffer has achieved a string of firsts: she became the first East Indian woman lawyer in British Columbia and in 2001 she was appointed to the Canadian Senate as the first East Indian, first Muslim woman, and the first African. A year later, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed her Chair of the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security. Canada has been a leading nation among the “Friends of 1325”, and Mobina seized the opportunity to initiate a new way of working:
Less than two months after 11 September 2001, and a few weeks after the beginning of the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan, President George W Bush made an urgent plea to see Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbafs Kandahar. He encouraged US citizens to watch it as well.
Adopted in 1979 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – the most far-reaching international commitment of governments working for gender equality – was the first international human-rights instrument to explicitly define all forms of discrimination against women as fundamental human-rights violations. As of April 2005, 180 states have ratified CEDAW, interpreting their treaty obligations in diverse ways ranging from reluctance to active incorporation.
Adopted in 1979 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – the most far-reaching international commitment of governments working for gender equality – was the first international human-rights instrument to explicitly define all forms of discrimination against women as fundamental human-rights violations. As of April 2005, 180 states have ratified CEDAW, interpreting their treaty obligations in diverse ways ranging from reluctance to active incorporation.
UN Resolution 1325 on women and peace-building presents a complex challenge for the international community. It identifies two distinct groups of women with a role to play in peace-building and reconstruction: those on the ground in areas of insecurity and those in global discussions on security issues, in positions of influence and who are peace-builders from the outside.
Sexual violence is arguably one of the most challenging human rights violations to address in peace and security work. There is no vaccine to prevent it; there is no cure for its effects. Girls and women are dying from the violence, and its long-term emotional, psychological and physical effects are profound and far-reaching.
openDemocracy: Why is UN Resolution 1325 worth working on?
Five years ago, two important events occurred. The UN Security Council adopted resolution 1325, demanding that member states increase the representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.
Can women make a difference to peace and security?
As one of the sponsors of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, I am glad openDemocracy is taking the fifth anniversary of its adoption to assess its value, examine how well it has been implemented and discuss its implications for the role women must come to play in the national sphere and in global society.
History will undoubtedly reveal that the quest for gender equality and justice was one of the defining events of the twentieth century.