Global Peace, Security Illusive Without Women -Leymah Gbowee Laments at UN Debate

MONROVIA – Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee has called on global actors to place women issues on the front burner if global peace and security must be attained. The architect of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa also wondered why conversation around war and peace processes are primarily limited to men with political power and men with guns, when it is proven over time that while men initiate wars, they are quite incapable of making peace by themselves.

“The question we must then ask ourselves as stakeholders: how do we discuss the issue of peace and security and leave out 50 percent of the population? How do we change the dynamic of the situation without engaging and utilizing all of the resources at our disposal?” Madam Gbowee wondered when she spoke on March 7, 2023 during the United Nations Council Debate under UN Resolution 1325 (2000) agenda on Women, Peace and Security.

Making her contribution during the UN Security Council discussion on Resolution 1325, Madam Gbowee said 23 years into its implementation, she has learned that, although 1325 is still seen as a tool for nations in a state of war by many actors, investment in its implementation is either stalled or slow.

“National action plans on the Resolution are now tools for politicians and political actors to window dress women, peace and security issues as a cover-up for their failure to bring women’s rights issues in their national agenda. This is done to impress donors and development partners,” Madam Gbowee lamented.

She however praised local activists working on women peace and security issues who continue to do their work, proving time and again that despite the lack of funds, it is not a day’s job, but an insurance policy for their children and their communities.

Gbowee used the occasion to call on global actors to redefine peace towards observance of the 25th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

“Peace in my opinion is not just the absence of war, but the presence of conditions that dignify all. The greatest threat to women, peace and security in nations across the world is not the barrel of the guns any more. Economic hardship, health and food insecurity including climate crisis, are all part of it. When our social budget as nations surpasses our military budget, we will begin to see more peaceful communities.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Women Peace and Security Agenda is not a dormant agenda. It is an actionable agenda. It is not an agenda for meetings and conversations. If we collectively put some measures in place, we can definitely attain global peace. Some ways, we must amplify the WPS Agenda,” the Nobel Laureate indicated.

How to Strengthen WPS

Gbowee said, the safest way to ensure global peace and security is for global and state actors to engage the womenfolk in three aspects of decision making.

“Engage local women peace activists at the very beginning of any peace mission; partner with them, seek their counsel, as they are the custodians of the communities, hence, keepers of vital information.

“Bring women at the peace table as both negotiators and mediators. It is amazing to see how only the men with guns are constantly invited to the table to find solutions, while women who bear the greatest brunt are often invited as observers. The impact of conflict on the lives of women qualifies us for more than observer status at peace talks.

“We must move beyond the political rhetoric. It is not okay to have national action plans and not have budgets to match those plans. Without funding and political will, we cannot move the peace and security agenda forward. Without funding and political will, 1325 remains a toothless bulldog,” Gbowee said.

She cautioned every stakeholder globally to see women peace and security as a holistic part of the global peace and security agenda in all its shape and form.

“We will continue to search for peace in vain in our world unless we bring women to the table. I firmly believe trying to work for global peace and security minus women is trying to see the whole picture with your eye covered. As we move towards the 25th anniversary of Women Peace and Security, it is my hope that more will be done, actionable agendas will be taken to move our world to a more peaceful and just world,” Madam Gbowee stated hopefully.

Why WPS?

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is recognized globally as a powerful transformative tool for moving women from the backburner to democratic decision-making; from gender inequality to gender justice; and from conflict and violence to sustainable and feminist peace.

The Agenda is now recognized internationally, but there are still challenges. Patriarchy, inequalities, militarized masculinities and discriminatory power structures inhibit effective conflict prevention, inclusive peace, women’s rights and participation.

Resolution 1325 was passed in 2000 as the global vehicle to champion Women, Peace and Security Agenda, moving from verbal commitments to actions through Governments, the United Nations, civil society, the private sector and other actors working together to implement relevant commitments across all thematic areas.

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