What Are National Action Plans and Why Do They Matter?

   •    August 10, 2016

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For peace to be sustainable, women must be fully engaged in building it. The power of inclusivity in peace processes is undeniable, yet norms about who prevents and resolves conflict or builds stability have been slow to change. Recognizing this, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 in 2000.

Resolution 1325 didn’t call on governments to merely acknowledge women’s vital contributions—it charged them to act. It calls upon member states to increase women’s participation in maintaining peace and security.

The Resolution alone, however, wasn’t enough to inspire immediate action. Understanding the urgency of the matter, in 2005 the Security Council asked individual countries to develop their own vehicles for implementation: national action plans or NAPs.

NAPs are one of the most powerful tools governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society have to increase the inclusion of women in politics and peacebuilding, and the protection of women and girls in times of war.

NAPS provide a structure – a sequence of actions – to achieve the goals outlined in Resolution 1325. They:

  • Help implementers set priorities, coordinate actions, simplify decision-making, and track progress;
  • Prompt meaningful changes in behavior, policies and funding;
  • Provide civil society a mechanism through which they can hold governments accountable; and
  • Create space for governments, multilateral institutions, and civil society to work together and accomplish more.

NAPs provide a blueprint that governments, multilateral institutions, and civil society can use to coordinate action and track results.

How can I create a high impact NAP?

In the 16 years since UNSCR 1325 was adopted, many lessons have been learned about how to make NAPs most effective. Inclusive Security conducted research and in-country consultations with policymakers and implementers, to identify four essential components of a high-impact NAP:

1. Inclusive design process and coordination system for implementation:

Create a platform to consult with civil society during plan design to ensure that diverse perspectives are reflected in the final strategy. During the design phase, establish a coordination structure to facilitate implementation that includes clearly assigned roles and responsibilities. Inclusive processes for these two steps will result in implementers who are more committed to the strategy’s success.

2. Results-based monitoring and evaluation plan:

Design the NAP with results in mind—what will success look like? Results-based planning enables implementers and policymakers to determine mid-term outcomes and activities that build to the final objectives. Clear links from one step to the next provide the foundation necessary for relevant actors to monitor progress and evaluate results of the NAP.

3. Resources identified and allocated for implementation:

Create a budget and specifically allocate sufficient funds to implement the activities envisioned in the NAP. This should be done during the design phase to ensure that the strategy has a realistic scope and that resources are used appropriately. Identified and assigned resources will increase NAP impact as well as accountability and transparency.

4. Strong and sustained political will:

Cultivate government support for the plan as an issue of national security and stability—not only gender. High-level government buy-in helps get the NAP process underway. After the design phase is complete it’s critical that ministries and agencies across the government recognize the value of NAP implementation and are committed to its progress.

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