Women's inclusion in peacebuilding process during the pandemic

Nasima Omari, representing the non-governmental organisation's Working Group on Women, Peace and Security Nasima Omari, representing the non-governmental organisation's Working Group on Women, Peace and Security © UN Women/Ryan Brown

This article is a brief presentation of the International Peace Institute report on Women’s inclusion in peacebuilding processes during the pandemic

The International Peace Institute (IPI) is a non-profit international think tank that focuses on risk management and resilience-building to promote peace, security and sustainable development. The IPI usually features a mix of policy research, strategic analysis, publication and convening. The authors, Masooma Rahmaty, a Policy Analyst at the IPI, and Jasmine Jaghab, a research Intern, have published a report in September 2020 on the role and inclusion of women in the peacebuilding process in the era of the pandemic of Covid-19. This report outlines five key factors that could help the United Nations (UN) and its Member States keep the focus on women peacebuilders during the pandemic: state leadership on the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) in multilateral fora; women’s participation in formal peace processes; the protection and security of women peacebuilders; financing for women peacebuilders; and data-driven responses.

Despite the expectation of progress in women’s inclusion in such processes, the COVID-19 pandemic caught the international community’s attention and put recent gains for WPS at risk. The pandemic has not only turned the international community's attention away from gender equality issues, but it has also jeopardised the limited gains made in recent years on the subject, affecting women in all countries, especially those living in conflict zones. Among the various problems due to the government lockdown, there has been an increase in domestic and gender-based sexual violence. The WPS agenda recognizes the different impacts of conflict on women and girls, therefore their central role in resolving and preventing conflict and achieving sustainable peace.

The report also highlights the difficult situation of two of the countries most affected by the conflict in the world, Yemen and Afghanistan. In both of those countries, women struggled to be included in the peacebuilding process even before the pandemic. However, with virtual meetings, they have fewer opportunities to participate. Especially local peacebuilders have difficulties due to complications in accessing digital platforms and Internet connection.

The inclusion of local women peacebuilders  in conflict countries is essential because they have been at the forefront of efforts to address the threats arising from both the war and the pandemic. Moreover, women peacebuilders are providing medical, legal, and humanitarian support to local communities and displaced persons. Women peacebuilders are also training medics to provide care in places without a proper healthcare system to deal with the pandemic, by sharing information with their communities on COVID-19 and preventive care using accessible formats.

In order to improve the inclusion of women in the peace-building process, the UN and Member States could prioritise the WPS agenda during the pandemic by appointing a high-level representative to advance the agenda in their foreign policy. By pushing for the meaningful inclusion of more women in peace processes, more effective responses to the pandemic could be achieved. In addition, the UN and its member states should provide physical protection for peace-building women, committing to funding the promotion of women's equality and collecting gender-disaggregated data to ensure that all relief, recovery and peace-building efforts are gender-responsive.


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Author: Carla Pintor

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