Why do we talk about women in diplomacy?

This weekend we mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the 1325 Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. The resolution is described as a landmark, reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building. Twenty years later, looking at the last numbers on women’s role and participation in diplomacy, we must acknowledge that there is still a long way to go before the resolution will live out its promise.

At a roundtable discussion in early october, the UN Secretary-General stated how “Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in achieving and sustaining peace is a priority for the UN, essential for successful peacekeeping and a centerpiece in our Action for Peacekeeping initiative”. Often, women play an important role as peace brokers in local communities, however, once the peace process is moved to the national or international level, they are often sidelined. We see this in practice in a range of different contemporary conflicts. In the Central African Republic, only ten percent of the participants in the 2019 peace talks were women. The UN Peacekeeping has published numbers showing that women make up only 2,4 percent of chief mediators and nine percent of mediators in formal peace processes. In general, the proportion of gender equality provisions in peace agreements increased by only eight percent over a period of 24 years, from 14 to 22 percent between 1995 and 2019.

When the Sustainable Development Goals were established in 2015, there was one goal in particular that called for the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions. This is Sustainable Development Goal 16. One effective way of achieving this is by ensuring "responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels". For this goal to reach its realization by 2030, we have to shift gears. Preferably quite many as well. Even though gender equality is moving in the right direction in many places of the world, the European Institute for Gender Equality stated in their 2019 report that "advances in gender equality are still moving at a snail's pace". As stated in UNDP’s 2014 Global Report on Gender Equality in Public Administration, “women remain underrepresented overall in the top levels of public administration”. Globally, the percentage of women represented in national parliaments is below 25.

“Women continue to have to fight for their voices to be heard, despite the mountain of evidence on the correlation between women’s participation and the sustainability of peace” - Antonio Guterres

Over the next thirty days, JDI France will focus on women’s role in diplomacy. We will present you with different female actors working with peacebuilding and diplomacy from all over the world. Our aim for this month is to show how including women in diplomacy is not only an important step for gender equality, but also for the prospect of building lasting peace.