On 17th May 2017, the GCSP hosted an Executive Breakfast on ‘Increasing the Influence of Women in Peace’.
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, GCSP Fellow, Former Permanent Representative of the US to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva and co-founder of the International Gender Champions chaired the discussion. She said 'Bringing together different perspectives from civil society, international organisations and the diplomatic community to address such a systemic and multi-faceted problem is critical to generating creative and innovative solutions. We were pleased to identify areas of collaboration and future work.'
Dr Thania Paffenholz, Director of the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative and author of the report ‘Making Women Count – Not Just Counting Women’ jointly published with UN Women delivered a keynote. She spoke of the highly positive effects of women's meaningful participation in peace processes and identified a number of participatory structures, however 'implementation and monitoring is key'. Further, 'Quotas are a necessary temporary step to create more systematic inclusion when numbers of women negotiators, chief mediators, witnesses and signatories are so low'. Dr Paffenholz identified Gender Commissions as a particularly important body to guarantee the nomination of women by parties: 'They take the pressure off women to push for their own inclusion and shift the focus to the substantive contribution they can make'.
As well as more systematic inclusion of women through institutional spaces and formal agreements, participants identified a need for a stronger bridge between local actors and the international community and more strategic communication and action, particularly here in Geneva where genuine messages can be ‘lost in translation’. To facilitate greater inclusion, lobbying at many levels, locally, nationally, regionally is necessary. Coalitions of women are effective, but the diversity of views and perspectives women represent should not be under-estimated. Women’s leadership in track 1, 2 and 3 peace processes and related fields of health, development, disarmament, together with men’s greater engagement in gender related issues, are critical to driving wider change and overcoming cultural and social barriers and stereotypes.
Elodie Convergnie, GCSP Doctoral Fellow urged us all ‘to ensure that we move beyond the representation of women and children as victims and start viewing them as full-fledged actors, and to showcase and build women’s expertise so that they are considered as true partners in peace processes rather than activists mainly focused on women's issues’. Human Rights mechanisms in Geneva such as Treaty Bodies, the UPR and the Working Group on Elimination of Discrimination against women in law and practice, are critical to addressing root causes of discrimination. However, mandates for Commissions of Inquiry provided by the Human Rights Council need to be more carefully worded to avoid a narrow interpretation which limits the gender perspective and enables better implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and its successors.
Fleur Heyworth, Cluster Leader for Gender and Inclusive Security at the GCSP said ‘United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and its 8 successor resolutions on Women, Peace and Security have created a normative framework, but that is not always translated into action and outcomes. We wanted to identify the obstacles and successes from different actors here in Geneva, a hub for research, mediation, human rights and peace talks, so that we can do more to shape inclusive processes and sustainable outcomes for peace. We look forward to further exchanges, collaborations and action to drive change’.