On Tuesday, the Security Council met for the 14th time to hold an open debate on Women, Peace and Security. It was the first time that the theme of a Security Council open debate was about refugee and internally displaced women and girls.
This focus came about at the behest of Argentina's Ambassador to the UN, Maria Cristina Perceval. In her nearly two years as an elected member of the Council, Ambassador Perceval has been a consistent, strong and vocal advocate of women and girls, including displaced women and girls. 72 statements were delivered by Council members, other Member States, and outside partners including the OSCE and NATO.
Suaad Allami, head of the Women’s Center and Legal Clinic in Baghdad, was an invited briefer and a powerful speaker. Having travelled from Iraq for the occasion, Ms. Allami spoke in her own capacity and also on behalf of the NGO Working Group on WPS, of which WRC is an active and founding member. Ms. Allami stressed the importance of including women, and women’s needs, in conflict and post-conflict response efforts. She highlighted the need for greater attention to ensuring women had access to safe and effective livelihoods–especially those women and adolescent girls left to run households after conflict breaks out. She also made an impassioned plea for far greater resources to meet the intense psychological trauma that women and girls suffer as a result of war and displacement. Her full statement can be found here.
Later, the WRC was proud that the representative from Switzerland pointed to WRC’s report Unpacking Gender: the Humanitarian Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan. He used this research illustrate the great need to enhance women’s participation in decision making in refugee camps.
As a result of the meeting, the Council adopted a Presidential statement calling for greater action by UN agencies, Member States, and Council Members to prevent violence against refugee and displaced women and girls. It called to ensure their access to humanitarian assistance–including health, education and productive livelihoods. It also strongly emphasized the inclusion of refugee and internally displaced women–significantly, this included adolescent girls–to be involved in program design, delivery, and evaluation. Finally, the statement recognized the vital importance of gender-specific data and analysis to be provided to the Council in briefings and reports, so that it can better evaluate whether programs are truly meeting the needs of women, men, girls, and boys. These are all recommendations for which WRC has been advocating for many years.