Women and girls living in conflict areas are frequently the targets of specific forms of violence and abuse. Thus women have a unique perspective on the causes and effects of conflict on the population. Yet they are severely under-represented during efforts to resolve hostilities and address their root causes.
To rectify this omission, the United Nations Security Council adopted in October 2000 Resolution 1325, which recognizes the critical need not only to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, but also to ensure that women participate as decision-makers during conflict resolution and peace negotiations.
Speaking in Munich, Germany, at a breakfast meeting held in support of women in international security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the passage of Resolution 1325 “is of critical importance in which we are making some, but not enough, progress.”
“When the Security Council passed Resolution 1325, we tried to make a very clear statement, that women are still largely shut out of the negotiations that seek to end conflicts, even though women and children are the primary victims of 21st century conflict,” she said.
“When you look around the world ... you see how hard it is to make peace under any circumstance. But the exclusion of women, I argue, makes it even harder,” she said.
Last December, the Administration of President Barack Obama launched the national action plan on women, peace, and security. It outlines a fundamental change in how the United States approaches diplomatic, military, and development support in conflict areas. Gender considerations are now an intrinsic part of how we approach peace processes, conflict prevention, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance.
Thus, the United States joined 32 other countries who had already adopted national action plans.
“In the last two decades, dozens of conflicts have persisted because peace efforts were unsuccessful. ... And far too often in these failed efforts women were marginalized, making up, by one estimate, just eight percent of all peace negotiators,” said Secretary Clinton. “We think the United Nations really deserves our support in making sure that we continue this progress.”