NEW YORK — In October 2000, the UN Security Council passed its landmark Resolution 1325 as the first international agreement to specifically recognize the impact of armed conflict on women and their role as builders of peace. While many achievements have been made across the globe as a result of the Resolution, the persistent lack of an accountability mechanism at the global, national and local level has hindered progress.
UNFPA is working to fill this gap by partnering with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), which brings together 55 women’s organizations and networks working on peace and security across the world. As a lead agency on implementation of Resolution 1325 in Burundi and Nepal, UNFPA has provided technical and financial support to develop the capacity of civil society to monitor the impact of the resolution. Both countries had experienced years of internal conflicts that took a huge toll on women.
A High-level event hosted by UNFPA and GNWP this week on the 11th anniversary of Resolution 1325 celebrated the monitoring efforts of grassroots women activists, particularly in Nepal and Burundi. The event, which took place as part of the larger Security Council debate on Resolution 1325, attracted over 80 participants, including H.E. Ambassador Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya of Nepal, H.E. Ambassador Mr. Herménégilde Niyonzima of Burundi and Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury (former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations).
At the event, civil society representatives from Burundi and Nepal shared their findings from the initiative. The presentations were supported by their ambassadors, who expressed their respective country’s commitment to reducing the number of incidents of gender violence and encouraged women’s participation in decision making roles.
Taking steps to implement and monitor Resolution 1325
Jeanne Bitsure from the Women and Allies Peacebuilders Network in Burundi reported that although Burundi’s penal code criminalizes sexual and gender-based violence, underreporting remains a serious challenge. In part, this is due to a lack of adequate health care facilities and impunity for perpetrators. For example, of the 3,715 cases reported in 2009, only 1.6 per cent of the cases were prosecuted. The government has been working to address these issues. Most notably, the 2005 law requiring a quota of 30 per cent women in parliament has been largely successful with 32.8 per cent of key ministerial positions held by women, the highest percentage in Africa.
Bandana Rana from Saathi, a nonprofit organization in Nepal, echoed similar challenges. Although data on sexual and gender-based violence is limited, the country has seen an increase in the number of reported cases, particularly among minors. The judicial and legal mechanisms for prosecuting such cases are weak, and health care providers are ill-equipped to recognize, and often treat, survivors. The government has actively recognized gender-based violence as a major concern and is conducting sensitization trainings for police and judicial prosecutors. Nepal’s prime minister also declared 2010 as the year to combat the problem.
National action plans adopted
Both countries have also adopted National Action Plans on Resolution 1325, a critical step in building accountability. Ambassador Chowdhury emphasized the importance of these initiatives as it energizes all partners, particularly civil society, and serves as a new resource for monitoring country-level implementation and in soliciting resultant accountability. UNFPA has supported the adaption of National Action Plans in Burundi, Nepal and many other countries. This work is part of a larger effort in working with Member States and civil society partners to ensure that all women and girls have access to safe sexual and reproductive health services at all phases of a crisis, including post-conflict relief and recovery.
A forthcoming report, Women Count, Security Council Resolution 1325: Civil Society Monitoring Report 2011, will provide additional details.