The month in women, peace and security: May 2019

Security Council resolution a step forward for survivors

Following the UN Security Council’s adoption of the ninth resolution on women, peace and security—resolution 2467, which focuses on conflict-related sexual violence—and much discussion about its implications, Dr Jacqui True and Dr Sara E. Davies have published an interesting piece analysing its language. While there has been a lot of focus on the negative implications of this resolution for the broader WPS agenda, True and Davies focus on its promotion of a survivor-centric approach and the achievement that represents in terms of implementing the WPS agenda.

Egypt adopts its first WPS national action plan

At the end of May, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi endorsed the ‘National strategy for the empowerment of Egyptian women 2030’. The strategy was developed in collaboration with the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding; the Egyptian foreign ministry; and the National Council for Women. The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women praised the Egyptian government for engaging women at all levels of decision-making.

Women and terrorism

The Council on Foreign Relations released Women and terrorism: hidden threats, forgotten partners. The report’s authors argue that the US and its allies must recognise the full gamut of roles women can have when it comes to violent extremism, including as perpetrators, mitigators or targets of terrorism.

According to the report, 26% of people arrested on terrorism charges in Europe in 2016 were women, up from 18% in 2015. Women also play a role in violent extremism through recruitment and radicalisation online and within families and communities. Women, the paper argues, must also be recognised for their potential as mitigators. For example, as women’s rights are often targeted by fundamentalists, women are well placed to detect early signs of extremism. And finally, extremist groups regularly profit from the subjugation of women through sexual violence and human trafficking.

Despite these important roles, the report found that the US has failed to incorporate women fully in efforts to combat radicalisation, both at home and abroad, and makes a number of practical recommendations.

Charter calls for change

The Somali women’s charter, which calls for the country’s constitution to ‘enshrine the unconditional commitment to gender equality, human rights and empowerment of women’, was released on 20 May. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre says he will seek to ‘fully implement’ the charter, and has affirmed the government’s ‘gratitude and respect’ for Somali women. With the revision of the country’s provisional constitution, and a new constitution to be decided through a public vote in 2020, this is an opportunity to strengthen responses to the challenges women face in building sustainable peace and development.

(Not) going nuclear

The Washington Post and the New York Times have published opinion pieces on the lack of women in the nuclear security field. Both pieces draw on analysis and data from The ‘consensual straitjacket’: four decades of women in nuclear security, which was published by New America and discussed in our ‘ASPI Suggests’ International Women’s Day edition.

In the Post, Elena Souris discusses the failure of the most recent nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea, suggesting that a lack of women at the negotiating table may have been a factor. Of the 10 people at the table at the Singapore summit, only one was a women, the US State Department translator. While translation is hugely important, the summit situation reflects the lack of women in policymaking positions and the relegation of women to roles that support men.

Both authors highlight the that women are often seen only as promoters of arms control and non-proliferation, while men work in positions focused on nuclear development and posturing.

France finalises feminist foreign policy

In a report released by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France has pledged to mainstream integrate gender perspectives in every part of French foreign policy, including ‘all political, economic, soft diplomacy, cultural, educational and development cooperation actions’. The proclamation of a French feminist foreign policy precedes the global celebration of women’s rights to be held in France in 2020. France’s commitment to a feminist foreign policy follows Sweden’s adoption of the first feminist foreign policy in 2014 and Canada’s approval of a feminist international development policy in 2017.

The concept of feminist foreign policy was explored during a workshop held on the sidelines of the Commission on the Status of Women meeting held in New York in March, a summary of which was recently released.

The impact of technology on women’s security

The discussion about the role of gender in technology is evolving alongside the tech itself. The gender or racial biases in facial recognition technology were discussed by a policing ethics panel in London in May. Elsewhere, a UN study has brought attention to digitised voice assistants, which are almost always gendered as young women, and the stereotypes and biases that this perpetuates.

Gender link to peace in Caucasian dispute?

In a piece for Foreign Policy, Anna Ohanyan argues that achieving peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is inextricably linked to addressing gender inequality in the South Caucasus. For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have failed to end a deadly border conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ohanyan links the lack of progress in peace talks to the broader issue of gender inequality in both countries. As she points out, Armenia’s Velvet Revolution in 2018 showed that increased participation of women in civil society could help change the political and diplomatic status quo.

Applying a feminist lens to atrocities

This month, we highly recommend listening to ‘What does a gender perspective bring to crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes?’ from the London School of Economics and Political Science. The discussion reframes the debate and applies a feminist perspective to atrocities—particularly crimes against humanity.