On May 20-21, 2010, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform organised a practitioner consultation designed to give stakeholders throughout the Geneva peacebuilding community the opportunity to share their views on key issues to be considered in the Report of the Secretary-General on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding.
The two-day workshop was co-convened with the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office and UNDP, and with support from UNWOMEN and DPKO. The event brought together 15 field-based practitioners from across the UN system and beyond, as well as members of Geneva’s peacebuilding community, in an attempt to think collectively and provide innovative responses to some of the major cross-sectoral and institutional challenges to increasing women’s participation in peacebuilding processes.
The event brought together 15 field-based practitioners from across the UN system and beyond, as well as members of Geneva’s peacebuilding community, in an attempt to think collectively and provide innovative responses to some of the major cross-sectoral and institutional challenges to increasing women’s participation in peacebuilding processes.
The sessions of the workshop spanned across eight panels, discussing at length issues related to conflict-resolution processes, post-conflict planning and financing, justice and the rule of law from a gender perspective, women’s security, gender and governance, women’s engagement in post-conflict politics and decision-making, gender issues in mission planning and organization, and respectively, humanitarian actors and transitions to peacebuilding. Contributions to the workshop helped shape the agenda for gender-responsive peacebuilding, issuing concrete recommendations for improving international and national responses to meet the needs of women and girls alike.
Recommendations included: a) developing women’s engagement capacities during the conflict phase and building them in humanitarian action plans, programs and projects; b) championing gender issues based on an SG mandate and through linkages with the UN Envoy; c) standardizing deployment of senior gender advisors to not only acquaint peacemakers with minimum requirements of gender mainstreaming and consultative processes, but to also present actual incentives associated with gender mainstreaming; d) extending capacity-development to men who may be better positioned to impose the peacemaking terms of reference; e) holding Special Representatives of the Secretary-General accountable to their gender checklist to help ensure that gender is not merely an add-on but rather an objective with clear standards and meaningful follow-up.
The practical experiences considered throughout the workshop underscored the fact that women’s presence is not the equivalent of women’s agenda. Effectiveness for women’s engagement depends enormously on the nature of the society before the peace process, as well as on the duration of the peace process itself. The more extensive the process, the more likely it is that decision-making forums move away from male domination, that constitutional reform and transitional justice plant the seeds for broader societal change. Lastly, capacity itself varies depending on the setting, sometimes calling for a stronger UN role, and other times cautioning against too heavy of an international involvement.