YPFP Brussels: Gender, Violence and War

Posted on May 7, 2013

It has become more dangerous to be a woman fetching water or collecting firewood than a fighter on the frontline,” said Margot Wallstrom, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2012. While it is mainly men who wage war, it is mainly women and children who suffer its consequences.

Following the appointment last August by NATO of a Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, YPFP Brussels will host a high-level panel debate in conjunction with the Alliance on May 21 focusing on the disproportionate impact of war and conflict on women and children. 

 “Despite evidence that deaths caused by violent conflict have dropped to a historic low-point worldwide, war and violence in the modern era continues to destroy lives and communities on a daily basis,” said Katrina Murray, YPFP Brussels member, who will take part in the debate.

“In the main, it is still women and children who bear the brunt of this destructive violence - be it from direct casualties, or the numerous, social, economic or sexually violent consequences of war,” Murray adds.


A landmark resolution

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was passed in October 2000. It was the first Resolution from the international community to recognise the impact of war and conflict on women and children, and the first to attempt to reduce this historic inequality.

“In no other area is our collective failure to ensure effective protection for civilians more apparent…than in terms of the masses of women and girls, but also boys and men, whose lives are destroyed each year by sexual violence perpetrated in conflict,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2007.

In the twelve years since, further UNSC Resolutions have built on this legacy including 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 which have focused on the impact of sexual violence and the obstacles faced by women trying to participate in the peacebuilding process.

“Since the introduction of UNSCR 1325, the international community has acknowledged the need for women to be included at all decision-making levels within the peacebuilding process. But there is a vast difference between recognising this, and acting upon it,” explains Bryony Taylor, YPFP Brussels member.


Debate details

The debate will take place at the Renaissance Hotel, Brussels, on Tuesday 21 May from 7pm, and is open to all young professionals with an interest in foreign policy. However, registration in advance is mandatory.

“I hope the debate will lead to some valuable discussion about what, or if, anything has changed during the last twelve years, and the obstacles faced by the international community going forward,” adds Taylor.


Sign up here.


Interested in learning more? Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Key civilian decision-makers worldwide are overwhelmingly men. From the “glass ceiling” of corporate board-rooms to the halls of national Parliament’s, women remain grossly underrepresented.
  • Government policy towards gender, violence and security is increasing in sophistication. While overall progress is uneven worldwide, leading Western states now have comprehensive UNSCR 1325 National Action Plans; with 15 EU member states and NATO member nations leading the way.
  • A fully employed female workforce would add value equal to 5 percent of GDP in the United States, 9 percent in Japan, 12 percent in the United Arab Emirates, and 34 percent in Egypt. In conflict zones where male workforces have been reduced by conflict, these opportunities only increase.
  • Of the 11 peace processes currently underway, female participation is at 8%.
  • Rape and sexual violence towards women has been increasingly recognized as a weapon of war, especially in instances of civil war. Some 50,000–64,000 internally displaced women in Sierra Leone were sexually attacked by combatants.
  • Out of 300 peace agreements for 45 conflict situations in the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, 18 have addressed sexual violence in 10 conflict situations (Burundi, Aceh, DRC, Sudan/Nuba Mountains, Sudan/Darfur, Philippines, Nepal, Uganda, Guatemala, and Chiapas).
  • More women are serving in the military worldwide than ever before, as increasing numbers of states remove restrictions on women serving in frontline roles. In Afghanistan, an increasing number of NATO Allies are deploying all-female liaison teams, for a more culturally sensitive approach to security activities.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325

From women in the ranks of the military to a nation’s politicians, UNSCR 1325 calls for the active consideration, accommodation and participation of women in peacebuilding. The Resolution has three key areas: protection, participation and prevention. The key tenets are:

  • Increased participation and representation of women at all levels of decision-making;
  • Attention to specific protection needs of women and girls in conflict;
  • Gender perspective in post-conflict processes;
  • Gender perspective in UN programming, reporting and in SC missions;
  • Gender perspective & training in UN peace support operations;