Progress for Women Fighting for Peace

October 28, 2010

Yesterday the United Nations Security Council strengthened the commitments it made a decade ago to women affected by war.  High level ministers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, met to mark the 10th anniversary of  a resolution adopted to formally recognize that women are integral to all efforts to create and maintain international peace and security – Security Council Resolution 1325. 

Women are deeply and disproportionately affected by conflict including as displaced civilians or targets of sexual violence.  Yesterday, not only did the Security Council reconfirm that women have the potential to promote peace, but they committed to taking steps to harness that potential.

In particular the Council commited to improve the measurement and reporting of women’s active participation in peacebuilding.  The Council also made a commitment to fight impunity and uphold accountability for serious crimes against  women and girls and drew attention to justice mechanisms including the International Criminal Court and national reparation programs for victims.

In her statement, Secretary Clinton demonstrated the United States’ recognition of the value of women’s participation in conflict prevention by promising $44 million to initiatives designed to empower women and committing to develop a United States National Action Plan to accelerate the implementation of Resolution 1325.  Secretary Clinton, who came face to face with the horrors of violence when she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, spoke about the reported mass rapes there earlier this year.  As she put it, “those rapes and our failure as an international community to bring that conflict to an end and to protect women and children in the process stands as a tragic rebuke to our efforts thus far” she went on to say “..we may have to challenge some conventional wisdom about how best to end the impunity of those who not only conduct these horrible violations of human rights, but those who permit them to do so.” 

The steps taken by the Security Council yesterday and the commitments made mark significant progress in global recognition of the critical role women play in maintaining international peace and security.  They also reinforce the role the international community must play in strengthening the rule of law and justice institutions in order to end impunity and war waged against women.  These commitments can help turn words into action and facilitate an increased role for women who are on the frontlines fighting for peace.