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Gender and Social Inclusion

Resolution 1325: 10 Years Later, A Lot Remains to be Done

This week I met up with Thelma Awori, who spoke at the Open Debate and addressed the UN Security Council on behalf of civil society. Thelma is the director of the Sirleaf Market Women's Fund, which supports empowering market women in Liberia. Thelma comes from Liberia and has not only seen the horrors of war firsthand, but can also attest to the tragic consequences when women affected by conflict are not involved in the peace processes that determine their futures. As we walked to the Open Debate together, she reminded me of where we were 10 years ago when Resolution1325 was first adopted.

In the years leading up to the passage of this important resolution, the world had witnessed a decade of wars that had tremendous impact on women and children. Over 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda, thousands of women were systematically raped in Bosnia and as a result of these horrific conflicts, millions of people were displaced—the majority of whom were women and children.

Women always bear the brunt of war. And so, it is all the more critical that they be heard in all aspects of negotiating peace. In October of 2000, it was clear that the Security Council was long overdue in recognizing women as integral and invaluable ambassadors for peace.

1325 was the first-ever resolution passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women. It calls for women’s equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security. As a community dedicated to the rights and protection of women around the world, we were so hopeful for how this might change the future of women around the world. They were finally being recognized as an equal partner in building peace!

However, looking back over the past 10 years, it’s clear that very little has changed. Resolution 1325 has not yet produced significant changes on the ground where conflict continues. Sexual violence continues in many war-torn areas, committed by perpetrators operating in an environment of impunity. The simple task of collecting firewood to cook family meals puts many women and girls at risk of assault. Women and girls just trying to survive find themselves forced to trade sex for food and other essentials for themselves and their families. These are just a few examples of how far we have to go and unfortunately, there are many more.

We must ensure the protection of every displaced woman and strengthen and expand their presence during peacebuilding and peacemaking efforts. Ensuring women’s equal participation in making decisions about their political and economic futures is critical. If women and girls are not fully included and protected, assistance programs and peace processes are doomed to fail.

As Thelma said, “We can no longer afford to wait. It is time for action not words.”

Read UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security: High Hopes, Unmet Expectations, our reflections on the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325

Gender and Social Inclusion