Forum calls for a harder push

by Natsuko Fukue

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the United Nations resolution on women, peace and security, a recent regional forum in Tokyo concluded that more robust implementation is needed to include more women in peacekeeping processes.

The U.N. Security Council in 2000 addressed for the first time the concept that women and girls are affected differently and disproportionately in wars and conflicts, compared with men and boys.

Because women and girls are likely to be targeted for specific kinds of violence, including sexual attacks, the Security Council recognized the importance of having women participate equally in peace-building. In October 2000, the U.N. unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

A decade later, the resolution needs to be pushed harder, even in countries such as Japan where there is no internal armed conflict, according to the experts participating in the forum last week at the United Nations University in Tokyo on women, peace and security.

“The Japanese government has not shown enough interest and has not dealt with (the resolution),” international human rights lawyer Mikiko Otani told the forum.

Otani said Resolution 1325 is not well known in Japan because people here think it is only relevant to countries in danger of armed conflict or those actually experiencing war, and therefore has no direct significance on this country.

Otani thinks otherwise.

“Japan should promote (the resolution) and play a big role especially because we have the peace Constitution,” she said, referring to Article 9 and its renunciation of war.

“We can also spread the concept of the resolution through politicians and media,” she remarked. “It is important to reflect women’s point of view” in peace and security issues.

Sarah Taylor, executive coordinator of the New York-based nongovernment organization Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said “the full implementation of the resolution is more urgent than ever,” but women are still excluded from peace processes and they are not yet protected from sexual and gender violence even though Resolution 1325 has been in existence for 10 years.

“We continue to see a lack of results,” Taylor said, noting that terrible news about sexual violence against women continues to come out of countries beset by armed conflict.

From late July to early August, it was reported that more than 200 women and girls were raped by Rwandan and Congolese rebels.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission base in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo did not receive news of the attacks — which occurred only about 30 km away — until more than a week later.

Taylor said that to fully and effectively implement the resolution, leadership needs to be taken at national, regional and institutional levels as well as in the United Nations Security Council and the secretary general.

“We need to see leadership across the spectrum,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jasmin Nario-Galace, associate director of the Center for Peace Education at Miriam College in the Philippines, shared a success story on implementing the resolution at a national level.

In the nation’s Congress, “the number of women has doubled from 27 in 1999 to 57 in 2010,” she said, noting this is a breakthrough in the Philippines in terms of women’s participation in governance. “Increasing their participation in the government would fulfill the commitment toward the implementation of 1325,” she said.

Alarmed by the small number of women in government, Nario-Galace sent letters to ministers informing them of the inadequate representation.

“It was a challenge even for a minister to suggest a female candidate for a government position, but we took the challenge,” she said, adding women’s participation in policy decisions and also in NGOs that focus on peace and security for women empowers them as peace builders.

The forum was sponsored by the United Nations University, Global Action to Prevent War, Soka Gakkai International, and the Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.