Agents of Peace, Agents of Change
Today, on Human Rights Day, No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project is proud to join the United Nations in calling for “365 Days of Human Rights” to ensure that we not only celebrate global efforts to uphold peace once a year, but work to promote peace, human rights, and inclusive security every day.
While many communities lack critical defenses to protect them from violations to thier rights and opportunities, women and girls remain particularly vulnerable, and are often disproportionately impacted by conflict, war, and civil strife. Yet still, women frequently do not have a voice in mediating or resolving conflicts, and are also vastly underrepresented in peacemaking negotiations, at the decision-making table, and among peacekeeping and police forces. Of the hundreds of national and international peace treaties signed in the last 20 years, fewer than 10 percent included women negotiators, and fewer than 3 percent had any women signatories.
Last week at Georgetown University, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the essential need to include women in peacemaking processes, and noted that women are not just “victims of conflict, they are [also] agents of peace and agents of change.”
"When women are involved in the peacemaking processes,” Secretary Clinton noted, “overlooked issues such as human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal are often brought to the forefront."
The tactics that women employ in peacemaking are what Secretary Clinton calls “Smart Power;” using, in her words, “every possible tool – leaving no one on the sidelines – showing respect even for one’s enemies . . . that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace.”
How can we ensure that women as well as men are supported to participate equally in the peace and security process?
The path has been years in the making.
In 1995 at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 189 countries adopted a landmark Platform for Action to promote the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society, including the need to support and empower women in peace negotiations during times of armed conflict. Five years later, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), to affirm and encourage the active participation of women in all aspects of peacemaking processes.
Earlier this year, Secretary Clinton announced that No Ceilings would partner with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and the Institute for Inclusive Security to launch the first-ever National Action Plan Academy that would work to advance national action plans (NAPs) on women, peace and security, pursuant to UNSCR 1325.
Secretary Clinton’s remarks at Georgetown launched the inaugural meeting of this academy, a three-day conference that brought together delegations from ten countries around the world, which currently have, or are developing, NAPs on women, peace and security.
Throughout the conference, the academy offered technical workshops with experts from civil society, the military, police, and government to share successes, failures, best practices, and challenges to help improve policies and inspire effective solutions to advance women’s participation in peace and security. In the last session, each country delegation – from Afghanistan to Japan, Norway to the U.S. – made commitments, by both government and civil society, to uphold and strengthen NAP implementation in their respective countries.
This academy, and the ongoing work to develop and implement national action plans in the U.S. and abroad, are evidence that we are truly working 365 days a year to promote inclusive security, ensure women are a central part of the conversation, and protect human rights for all – today and every day.