How women’s world conferences laid foundation for UN Security Resolution 1325
Recently Nairobi played host to four countries that have hosted the four world women’s conferences. The great meetings have determined the way women’s issues are handled at national, regional and international levels.
All the four meetings held in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing gave prominence to the issue of women’s equality, development and peace.
However, 40 years down the line, peace and security continues to dodge the world as women and girls remain the greatest victims.
African women recognise that without peace there can never be development and this is their rallying call in the Post-2015 Development Agenda as heads of State sign on to the new development goals on September 25.
The African women’s sentiments are echoed across borders as insecurity remains at its highest levels with ethnic violence, civil unrest, violent extremism, terrorism and war perpetrated by militant groups are felt from the East to the West and from the North to the South.
Yet ever since the meeting in Mexico City, women’s role in peace, security and development have remained key parameters. During the Mexico City meeting, the Declaration was on equality of women and their contribution to development. The conference was convinced in its declaration that women must play an important role in the promotion, achievement and maintenance of international peace and that it is necessary to encourage their efforts towards peace through their full participation in the national and international organisations that exist for this purpose. Noting that “for attainment of equality, development and peace, equality between women and men means equality in their dignity and worth as human beings as well as equality in their right opportunities and responsibilities”.
In 1980, the second meeting of the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women was also held under the theme equality, development and peace in Copenhagen, Denmark. The meeting equally stressed on women’s participation on strengthening of peace and security. The Copenhagen meeting noted that without peace and stability there can be no development. It reiterated that peace is a pre-requisite for development, noting that there can be no development without peace.
The Nairobi meeting in 1985 also emphasised that full and effective promotion of women’s rights can only best occur in conditions of international peace and security where relations among states are based on respect for legitimate rights of all nations, great and small, and peoples to self-determination, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to live in peace within their national borders. Known as the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, the Third World Conference on Women noted that peace depends on the prevention of the use or threat of the use of force, aggression, military occupation, interference in the internal affairs of others, the elimination of domination, discrimination, oppression and exploitation, as well as of gross and mass violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It reiterated that peace includes not only the absence of war, violence and hostilities at the national and international levels but also the enjoyment of economic and social justice, equality and the entire range of human rights and fundamental freedoms within society.
The Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies noted that peace cannot be realized under conditions of economic and sexual inequality, denial of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, deliberate exploitation of large sectors of the population, unequal development of countries, and exploitative economic relations. It also underscored that without peace and stability there can be no development. The Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies highlighted that peace and development are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
The Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies reiterated that the full enjoyment by all requires that women be enabled to exercise their right to participate on an equal footing with men in all spheres of the political, economic and social life of their respective countries, particularly in the decision-making process, while exercising their right to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association in the promotion of international peace and co-operation.
These same sentiments were expressed in the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995 where it was noted in the Beijing Platform for Action in its 12 critical areas that wars and armed conflict destroys societies leaving women and girls vulnerable.
The Beijing meeting in 1995 called on UN programmes on women, peace and security to engage women in all aspects of negotiations, peace building and reconstruction to build an inclusive society. The Beijing Declaration reiterates the importance of peace and security at the global, regional and local levels together with the prevention of policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing as well as the resolution of armed conflict, reiterating that it’s crucial for protection of the human rights of women and girls.
While these meetings could just be seen as women’s talk, their stressing on women’s role in peace and security eventually caught the attention of the United Nations Security Council in October 31, 2000. During this time, the UN Security Council passed a landmark ruling on women’s role in peace building. The resolution recognises that war impacts women differently and stressed the need to include women in peace talks and peace building.
While this resolution did bind UN member states into including women at peace negotiation tables, between 1992 and 2011 only nine per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.
The UN Security Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
The resolution echoes the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
In the end all the meetings have never been in vain only that it’s been a long journey to ensure women’s rights and equality in development and peace are core to development of nations and societies. This will be the climax of the Post-2015 Development Agenda when heads of States gather to append their signatures to the Sustainable Development Goals framework.
This is now captured firmly on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, known as Agenda 2030 which is a follow up to the Millennium Development Goals. Titled under the banner “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Agenda 2030 which is a 15 year plan is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace for larger freedom.
Article 16 of the SDGs notes: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
This is captured fully in the Agenda 2039 which reaffirms: “We’re determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. Echoing what was the strength of all the four women’s meetings in 1075, 1980, 1985 and 1995, Agenda 2030 reiterates: “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”