2010 Women PeaceMaker Conference Panel 1: Moving Policy into Practice: Indicators of Change

On Thursday morning, Maryam Elahi (Open Society Institute) welcomed delegates to the conference’s first panel, “Moving Policy into Practice: Indicators of Change.” During the session, panelists shared insights on both the substance of SCR 1325 and what it means in practice. Each panelist also offered recommendations for concrete next steps to ensure women’s engagement in peacebuilding.

Luz Mendez (National Union of Guatemalan Women) started the panel presentation by sharing her memory of the historic meeting on Oct. 24, 2000, when the Security Council (SC) met with women’s organizations from conflict-affected regions around the world to discuss the situation of women. Mendez stressed during that meeting, and continues to stress today, the importance of not only including women’s needs in peace accords but also ensuring the participation of women in negotiations.

Olenka Ochoa (Latin American and Caribbean Federation of Municipal Women) followed with a critical perspective on the current reality of 1325: In many Latin American countries, including her own country of Peru, very few people know about the resolution. Even the women’s and human rights movements have not incorporated 1325 into their programs and advocacy plans. Ochoa highlighted the need for creative new awareness-raising strategies as well the need for innovative techniques to encourage the next generation to challenge existing ideologies of women.

In July, the United Nations introduced a set of indicators to measure the progress of 1325. Malika Bhandarkar (UNIFEM) gave a detailed overview of these indicators and explained the U.N.’s hope that the indicators will be instrumental in “turning aspirations into guarantees.” According to Bhandarkar, the indicators work together to tell a story of each country’s successes and failures in regards to women, peace and security.

The importance of these indicators was highlighted during Sarah Taylor’s (NGO Working Group) presentation. She framed her discussion around the disconnect between information, realities on the ground and what the SC does about these realities. A key strategy in combating this, according to Taylor, is using more detailed data to draw attention to the indisputable injustices on the ground.

The discussion ended with a specific example of 1325’s implementation from Charlotte Onslow (International Alert and Gender Action for Peace and Security). The U.K. was the 2nd member state to develop a National Action Plan (NAP); however, its initial plan had very little government buy-in, which resulted in a weak, unsophisticated plan. Onslow described the U.K.’s current review process and strategy for improving its NAP, leaving delegates with hope that it is possible to implement 1325 effectively and efficiently.

The panel discussion was followed by a brief Q & A period which brought to light two significant gaps in the framework and implementation of 1325 — the exclusion of women with disability and the lack of acknowledgment of the political economy of war.

A full conference report, detailing the conference proceedings, will be available one the IPJ website in the coming weeks.

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