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Security Council resolution 2122: women's empowerment
an article by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Director, UN Women (abridged)

When war erupts, women are often the first to experience the harsh brutality and the last to be called to the peace table. A resolution adopted today by the UN Security Council moves us one step closer to the full participation of women as leaders for peace and security.

A Syrian woman hangs clothes to dry while taking shelter inside ruins she fled to in fear of shelling near Idlib on October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie

click on photo to enlarge

By unanimous vote, the Council adopted a resolution that sets in place stronger measures to enable women to participate in conflict resolution and recovery, and puts the onus on the Security Council, the United Nations, regional organizations and Member States to dismantle the barriers, create the space, and provide seats at the table for women. . . .

In many current conflict resolution processes, such as those for Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, or Somalia, there have been few opportunities for women to participate directly. UN Women hopes that this new Security Council resolution will trigger opportunities for womenís direct engagement, setting priorities for recovery in their countries.

There can be few better investments in building a sustainable peace than involving women. They connect the talks to the lives of those affected by conflict. They help generate broad social buy- in to the peace. UN Women therefore invests in building coalitions of women to influence negotiations.

Last year in Mali, for example, after women were routinely targeted when extremist groups took over the northern part of the country, resulting in rape and the removal of women from public office, women were told to stay out of public space. With men fleeing from attacks and forced recruitment to rebel forces, women were left to head households with no means of seeking water or food, or of reaching to the outside world for help.

This story is not unusual. Nor is what happened next. Women across Mali demanded inclusion in the conflict-resolution efforts that began immediately in nearby Burkina Faso. In response, UN Women began convening huge meetings of women from civil society and government leaders from across the country to set out their own priorities for peace and demand a space at the peace table.

UN Women arranged for four women peace leaders to fly to the peace talks in Ouagadougou. Without an invitation, they walked into the talks and raised the alarm about the attacks against women and girls and the dire situation facing them in refugee camps and in towns occupied by armed forces. They demanded inclusion in efforts to stop the fighting so their needs could be addressed and their human rights protected.

Security Council resolution 2122 spells out specific measures to protect womenís rights, including their right to sexual and reproductive health. It outlines measures so that delegations to peace talks, post-conflict national leaders, peacekeepers, mediators, foreign ministers and their staff, put into action the commitments set out in Security Council resolution 1325, the first one calling for womenís engagement in conflict resolution, adopted thirteen years ago. . . .

[Note: Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.]


Question(s) related to this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?,

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A recent study by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security is critical of the UN Security Council for its inconsistent implement of Resolution 1325 that calls for an increased role of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. †The full report is available on the Internet on the website of †

The working group members are an impressive group of active international NGOs: Amnesty International; Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights; Femmes Africa Solidaritť; Global Action to Prevent War; Global Justice Center; Human Rights Watch; The Institute for Inclusive Security; International Action Network on Small Arms; International Alert; International Rescue Committee; Refugees International; International Womenís Program of the Open Society Foundations; Social Science Research Council; Womenís Refugee Commission; Womenís Action for New Directions; Womenís International League for Peace and Freedom.

Here is the report's Summary of Findings

General trends in the Council over the last 12 years have shown significant development, including in the language and expertise on women, peace and security in resolutions, more expertise available to deploy in terms of gender advisors and women, peace and security, and a more sophisticated understanding of the key issues at the root of this agenda. There is a better understanding of, for example, what it takes to have disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes that are responsive to women; security sector reform that is responsive to women; and post-conflict elections that support women candidates and women voter. However, there is inconsistency in the Councilís deployment of that knowledge. There is still a significant disconnect between the content of reports received by the Council, meetings the Council holds, and resolutions it adopts.

There have been a number of positive developments in the Councilís use of women, peace and security-specific language in its policy over the last year. For the first time, for example, the Council used women, peace and security language in its resolution on Cyprus. However, there have also been inconsistencies. The Councilís initial lack of support for women in September 2011ís resolution on Libya was rectified by strong support in its March 2012 renewal. . ...more.

This report was posted on October 21, 2013.