31 October saw the 12th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Despite the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy and the postponement of the UN Security Council Open Debate on women, peace and security, Norway and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) hosted a side event on the day itself.
The event highlighted efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda and promote local ownership of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and 1820 on sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, also outside the most central areas in conflict and post-conflict countries.
"In order to uphold the international consensus on the women, peace and security agenda, it is also extremely important to see that Security Council resolutions are actually implemented on the ground. The aim is therefore to implement locally and inspire globally", as the international coordinator of GNWP, Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, put it in her introduction.
The international engagement to promote women, peace and security has been criticised, both by researchers and activists, for focusing too much on national implementation and international efforts. Critics claim that this leads to projects not being implemented in the areas that are hardest hit by conflict, and to the voices of women from these areas not being heard.
GNWP has implemented a pilot project with a view to addressing this problem, which has been funded by Norway, Canada and the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden. The project focuses on Nepal, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Burundi and Uganda. It has been held up as an example of international “best practice”, and during the side event on 31 October it was presented to over 45 representatives of civil society and UN member states.
Stories from the pilot countries
Grassroots activists and representatives of local authorities in the five pilot countries explained how the project is being implemented in practice. They also spoke of the challenges involved and the support they have received from unexpected quarters.
The project is being adapted to local cultural conditions and governance structures in the pilot countries, so it appears to be taking quite a different form in the various countries. Having said this, the pilot countries also face a number of common challenges, particularly relating to securing funding from ordinary budget allocations in order to ensure sustainability. In several of the pilot countries, it was also difficult to make changes to traditional governance structures that exist alongside official governance structures. Nevertheless, the country representatives all agreed that progress – both in practical terms and in terms of attitude change – had been achieved at the local governmental level and among key norm-setters in the societies concerned.