On Oct. 31, 2000 the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It was intended to address modern warfare’s increasing impact on civilians, including women, and the exclusion of women from post-conflict peace processes. UNSCR 1325 identified four pillars to support its goals of empowering women in conflict zones: Participation, Protection, Prevention and Relief & Recovery.
This was an ambitious, hopeful step toward peace, taken by key members of the global community. In the words of Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, president of the Security Council when Resolution 1325 was passed, “The main question is not to make war safe for women, but to structure peace in a way that there is no recurrence of war and conflict.”
15 years later, while the impact of the resolution has been felt, its goals are far from fully achieved.
In Uganda, the Coalition for Action on Resolution 1325 (CoACT) has “has spearheaded monitoring of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Uganda since 2010 to document the progress made...and provided useful recommendations toward effective implementation of the resolution,” according to CoACT National Coordinator Robinah Rubimbwa.
Rubimbwa says a lack of political will has hampered efforts to achieve UNSCR 1325’s goals, as has a lack of dedicated funding. Despite these barriers, CoACT, in partnership with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders to provide support to victims of trauma due to armed conflicts in the country. They are also actively advocating to increase Ugandan women’s participation in government. Progress has been slow, as shown by numbers from a report generated by CoAct and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders in 2014.
Rubimbwa also says, “The incidence of gender based violence and oppression of women continue to rise with sexual violence, especially the rape of underage girls, reaching worrying proportions.” She says that official support is crucial to further success in upholding UNSCR 1325. “The government of Uganda needs to invest in gender-specific training programs for women in high offices.” Training initiatives for social and health care workers that deal specifically with gender based violence are also needed, as are gender-related affirmative action policies for the military and the police.
While there is much work still to be done, positive strides have been made on many global fronts. In its final report, the UN found the efforts to increase women’s political participation resulted in “higher rates of female voters and politicians, as well as increased legal provisions to support gender equality.” In the end, Resolution 1325’s largest impact can be found in an increased awareness of issues affecting women and a proliferation of dialogue surrounding them.
The biggest reasons for optimism may be what comes next. This year, UN member states agreed to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” The goals were developed following the largest consultation ever undertaken by the agency and were drafted an open working group of 70 participating countries. The deadline for achieving the goals is 2030.
While a global focus on issues like gender equality and empowerment are undoubtedly important, the ultimate success of efforts like the UN’s SDGs and Resolution 1325 rests in large part with the community-based initiatives of grassroots organizers like CoACT. Their understanding of local needs and connection to the community helps inform effective strategies. Support for their work is a crucial component to achieving the outcomes that Resolution 1325 aspired to and that the SDGs have set their sights on.