Women Peace and Security Week Primer

 

A short primer to help activists working on Women Peace and Security Week make the most of your experience


What is Women, Peace and Security Week?

Women Peace and Security (WPS) Week is an annual series of events that take place during the the last full week of October in NYC to celebrate the anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS (UNSCR 1325) which was adopted on 31 October 2000. The week coincides with the annual UN Security Council debate on the WPS agenda, thus it serves as an opportunity for civil society to mobilize and pressure delegates to make commitments regarding the goals of WPS1. This week provides an opportunity for women from around the world, from both civil society and within the UN, to reflect on the progress of the WPS agenda and brainstorm ways to improve its future impact through workshops and panel discussions.


Why is it important?

In addition to inspiring and educating civil society actors from around the world, WPS week is able to influence the Security Council during its annual WPS debate. For example, the Women’s International League for Freedom and Peace (WILPF) analyzes the UN Secretary-General WPS Report in advance, monitors the debate, and works with the NGO Working Group on WPS to share a civil society open letter and civil society statement during the debate.2 As such the week serves to push states to continue to fulfill their obligations under UNSCR 1325 on WPS and reflect on the ways in which women can be better involved and protected in peace and security processes.


WPS Week in Previous Years

The first WPS Week took place in 2016, one year after the publication of the Global Study on UNSCR 1325. This significant study provided an evidence base for action and as such the theme for the year’s WPS Week was “12 Months on from the Global Study”. During this week civil society actors and international policymakers called for action in areas of conflict prevention, disarmament, and financing. During the annual Security Council WPS Open Debate, WILPF hosted a delegation of diverse women peace leaders to engage in a variety of events, bilateral meetings, and other engagements surrounding the debate.3 Multiple discussions and workshops took place during the week by various actors to engage activists, feminist advocates and women human rights defenders along with UN member states and agencies.

The 2017 WPS Week similarly had civil society delegates participating in a variety of initiatives, meetings, and side events aimed at amplifying women’s voices for disarmament and justice. In addition to the events, WILPF launched a number of publications including the 2010-2016 Security Council WPS Scorecard Research Report, the Feminist Security Council Infographic, and a Women and Disarmament Summary Report4. Additionally, during the Security Council debate, a diverse set of activists from around the world mobilized and demanded accountability on the WPS Agenda.


This Year’s 2018 WPS Week

For the third year in a row women from around the world convened in NYC for WPS week in order to reflect as a community on where the WPS agenda stands. Some of the questions the event explored included:

  • What are the structural and cultural barriers that continue to impede implementation of the WPS agenda?
  • What are the most pressing issues for which we need to ensure collective advocacy?
  • How can we make certain that in the coming years progress will be made?
  • What kind of statement do we want to make for the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325?

The debate discussed the most recent report on the WPS Agenda by the Secretary-General and focused on “Promoting the Implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda and Sustaining Peace through Women’s Political and Economic Empowerment”5.


The Road Towards 20 Years of WPS- Civil Society Delegates Meeting

WPS Week 2018 also provided an opportunity for global feminist peace leaders to explore how to leverage the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, an important milestone that is just 2 short years away. In preparation for the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in 2020, Oxfam, Cortaid, WILPF and the NGO WG on WPS facilitated a strategy meeting during October WPS Week bringing together global feminist peace leaders in New York to explore how to leverage 2020 for accountability on holistic implementation of the WPS Agenda. The discussion aimed to identify key tensions for political action and identify key elements needed for a WPS roadmap to 2020 and beyond. In advance of the civil society consultation/ strategy meeting, the NGO WG invited international women’s civil society peace activists to share top line priorities for 2020 to shape discussion.


LGBTI Issues in Women, Peace and Security

UNSCR 1325 continues to frame WPS in a heteronormative framework that emphasises a gender binary and ignores the vulnerability of many trans and gender non conforming people to homophobia. UNSCR 1325 also fails to draw connections between the inequalities faced by people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expression and sex characteristics and the broad category of ‘women and girls’.

Along with the work of other members of the WPS NGO Working Group OutRight’s analysis continues focus on the gendered nature of power and by extension, draws a link between the toxic masculinity that drives violence against women also drives homophobic and transphobic violence. For example, a hatred or fear of “feminized” men indicates an underlying hatred toward women. Despite this all resolutions and other documents surrounding WPS fail to mention the risks of gender based and sexual violence faced by LGBTI people. In fact the name “Women, Peace, and Security” itself continues to perpetuate harmful gender essentialist thinking unless a nuanced gender analysis is applied.

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References:

  1. “Inside the UN Security Council: WPS Open Debate and Advocacy” by Anne Lescure; Peace Women/ WILPF, https://www.peacewomen.org/e-news/article/inside-un-security-council-wps...
  2. “Open Letter to Permanent Representatives to the UN: Recommendations on the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS)”; The NGO Working Group on WPS, http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/resource/open-letter-unsc-wps-annivers...
  3. “16th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325: Women, Peace and Security Week”; Peace Women/ WILPF, https://www.peacewomen.org/node/96120
  4. “17th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325: Women, Peace and Security Week”; Peace Women, https://www.peacewomen.org/UNSCR1325_17
  5. “Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, October 2018” by Colleen Bromberger, WILPF/ Peace Women, https://www.peacewomen.org/security-council/security-council-open-debate...