This year celebrates the tenth anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UN SCR) 1325 on Women, Security and Conflict. This resolution is by many considered to be the milestone addressing the impact of war on women, and women’s contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. UN SCR 1325 is a response to the reality on the ground. It recognises women as more than the traditional view as mere victims, but also as female witnesses, perpetrators of violence and crucial drivers of change.
Today UN SCR 1325 is a central piece in any discussion on conflict, women and security. During the last decade much international effort has been invested in the implementation of the resolution. Many national governments have incorporated UN SCR 1325 to their international development agenda and a number of governments have linked the issues with their own emancipation legacy. Politically the resolution has enjoyed full support and is backed by many influential national governments. For example, seventeen national governments have presented official actions plans for the implementation of UN SCR 13251. In spite of the ten years of political buy-in the questions of its operational impact still remain somewhat unanswered.
In some cases UN SCR 1325 is making the move from being a policy issue to become an operational tool, capturing the dynamics of a post-conflict situation and improving the delivery of sustainable peace. One main challenge has been that since its origin, the Resolution has been battling with the connotations of political correctness or feminist dogma2. The operational reality has been reflected by the fact that individuals in decision-making positions who have not understood the added value of UN SCR 1325 have found it easier to symbolically tick off the gender box, by for example appointing a female individual or establishing a gender unit, rather than ransacking what gender mainstreaming is about and how it can contribute to the work at hand. As a result, operationally the issue has in many cases tended to tilt towards symbolism and has in some cases effectively undermined the agenda of women, peace and security.
UN SCR 1325 is as relevant and as important as ever. The question is how do we progressively move the agenda of the Resolution forward as an operational tool? A tool that will assist us in understanding the differences in women’s and men’s experience and behaviour during armed conflict and how this is related to the delivery of sustainable peace operations. First, more must still be done in order to get women in strategic positions in decision making-con- texts and in peacekeeping operations. This is very basic, but the record of two international key players, the EU and the UN, is dismal in this respect. Second, there is a need to move beyond numbers, as an improved gender balance will not automatically advance the implementation of UN SCR 1325. We need to learn from gender sensitive policies that have actually worked. Third, we must all leave the binary world. Both the detractors and the “blind” believers of gender mainstreaming are undermining the gender aspect. Gender is important, but it is not – and this is a hard sell for some of us who propagate the issue – always the determining factor. As we progress, the issue must gradually find its rightful place among other important considerations in designing peace-promoting missions and in addressing conflicts.
The variety of roles that women (and men) take on before, during and after conflict was neglected for a long time. Historically, men have been given and have taken on the belligerent roles to fight and be fought in wars and armed conflict. Women’s relationship and connections to conflicts was associated with the stereotypic roles of peaceful women, nurturing and caring, and always the victimsPage 94of wars. As such women (and children) have historically been labelled as weak and fragile with the systematic categorisation of being...