The Importance of Gender in Peacebuilding

4/1/2008 // "Full participation for the women of Burundi and Sierra Leone in the peacebuilding process has to be our goal," said Norwegian Ambassador Johan L. Løvald in a statement in the Peacebuilding Commission,  Working Group on Lessons Learned, 29 January 2007.

There can be no sustainable peace if half of the population is left out of the process. In many post conflict countries, women count for more than half of the people. There should be no need to discuss why the participation of women is critical to sustainable peacebuilding. Peace, democracy and development can only be sustained if all people's experience, knowledge and resources are utilized and their needs are safeguarded, regardless of gender.

Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in peacebuilding and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. The PBC has the responsibility to implement the SR1325 in all its activities.

Violence against women remains one of the most persistent obstacles to women's full and equal participation in post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation processes. It should be addressed as a security sector imperative not a domestic problem or a women’s issue.

The Norwegian government is concerned about reports of continued SGBV in Burundi and Sierra Leone also after the peace agreements. The PBC must follow this issue very closely as it constitutes a major threat to the peacebuilding process.
Lessons learned from post conflict situations shows that a comprehensive approach is needed to fight SGBV and enable women to participate fully in the peacebuilding process.

  • We have to work on the local level to change attitudes and support women network.
  • We have to work with the national judicial system to ensure that women are encouraged to report SGBV, and that the crimes are followed up in a serious way.

In Burundi, Both UNIFEM and many NGOs can show good results after working with women on the local level to raise awareness, fight prejudices and stigma and encourage them to stand together against SGBV.

Another impediment for women's  participation in the peacebuilding process is that they often lack political and economic power. In Burundi, as in many African countries, women face challenges related to inheritance rights and ownership of land. Strategies to empower women both politically, legally end economically, will contribute to their ability to participate in the peacebuilding process.

We acknowledge the efforts by the Government of Burundi to ensure women's participation in accordance with the requirement in the constitution that at least 30 percent of personnel in all levels of government be women.

The PBC process in both Burundi and Sierra Leone have engaged women organizations and networks in a positive way, but there is still room for improvement. We have to ensure that women always participate fully at the main table in the peacebuilding process, not only in gender specific committees or other sub-groups. The UN and PBC must always ask for the women perspective and ensure gender analysis in all plans and strategies.

We must learn from good experiences, and duplicate good initiates and activities. We also have to be innovative and persistent to achieve what must be our common goal:  Full participation for the women of Burundi and Sierra Leone in the peacebuilding process.

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