Women Are Key to UN Reforms
This article was originally published by Scripps Howard News Service.
In his first public undertaking as US Ambassador, John Bolton is pressing for sweeping institutional reforms at the United Nations. His approach is presumably intended to enhance UN efforts at peacekeeping, fighting terrorism, nuclear disarmament, and democratization.
This week, 175 world leaders will convene for a summit that’s billed as the largest gathering of its kind in history. As they discuss reforms and the UN’s future, let’s recognize a key reality: Sustainable peace requires a model of “inclusive security,” in which all stakeholders, especially women, participate fully in formal and informal peace processes.
In 2000, it appeared the UN might be seeing the light when the Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. In addition to calling for protection of women and girls from gender-based violence used as a weapon of war, the resolution recognizes women’s leadership in peace processes. Nations came together to urge all actors—including the UN itself—to include gender perspectives in all peace and security efforts. The Secretary General and his top staff enthusiastically endorsed the resolution.
Five years later women remain largely excluded from efforts to implement fresh, workable solutions to conflict. Until 2000, only four women had ever served as Special Representatives of the Secretary General (SRSG), and things have hardly improved. A paltry two of 17 SRSG’s heading UN peacekeeping missions are women: Carolyn McAskie in Burundi and Heidi Tagliavini in Georgia.
But this is more than just a numbers game. Many men have great gender sensitivity, and many women have forgotten their own. Still it’s critical to have women in leadership positions to inspire others on the ground as they work night and day preventing conflict, stopping war, and stabilizing damaged regions.
Just what do women bring to the table?
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