Published on Voices

To Secure Peace and Renewal, Including Women in Peacebuilding Is Key

This page in:

“Women’s leadership and the protection of women’s rights should always be at the forefront—and never an afterthought—in promoting international peace and security,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said recently. 
The Secretary-General’s remarks provide a crucial strategic focus. Research, evidence, and experience underline that women’s leadership in peacebuilding increases overall operational effectiveness. 
Women play an immeasurable role in preventing or de-escalating conflict, brokering local ceasefires, promoting cultures of peace and coexistence, and preventing recruitment of children as combatants. Yet the numbers show us that investment in women and girls—and willingness to ensure their involvement in peacebuilding efforts—is desperately low. In 2012-2013, just 6 percent of aid to developing countries focused on gender equality as a principal objective, while a mere 2 percent of aid for peace and security took primary aim at advancing gender equality.
This year the United Nations undertook three reviews of its work on peace and security—of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and the women, peace, and security agenda. In October, the 400-plus page Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 presented the current body of evidence showing women’s engagement in peace and security increases our effectiveness and efficiency in all areas of work.
The world cannot afford to disregard it. In 2014 alone, conflict cost the world US$14.3 trillion dollars. The UN Peacekeeping budget has tripled since 2000 to some US$9 billion today, as the duration of peacekeeping missions has also tripled.
The Global Study makes the case for prioritizing gender equality in post-conflict development:
An explicit, authoritative role for women in post-conflict economic revitalization brings faster and more equitable recovery. Women are more likely than men to spend their income on family needs, including health care and education. In Nicaragua, for example, conditional cash transfers paid to women doubled household spending expenditure on milk and saw a 15 percent increase in food expenditures. 
Humanitarian assistance focused on gender equality, further, conveys broad benefits with overall improvements in services for women, men, girls, and boys. One study of a refugee camp in the Philippines that introduced activities to build awareness of gender equality found that both boys and girls were 60-75 percent less likely to drop out of school.
An alternative vision
This year, amid escalating crises and acts of violent extremism that target women and girls specifically, we must invest in peace instead of war. Some critical ways to do this include supporting women and girls in their efforts to prevent and end conflict and sustaining their capacity to rebuild communities and help them thrive.
Former US official Donald Steinberg is said to have once observed poignantly of peace processes that, too often, “You have men with guns forgiving other men with guns for crimes committed against women.” The evidence is clear. Including women, we now know, is essential to achieve the lasting peace we seek and the sustainable security the world so desperately needs. 
Khetsiwe Dlamini currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Executive Director of UN Women. She spoke Nov. 19 on Fragile States and the Role of Women as part of the WBG’s Law, Justice, and Development Week.


Khetsiwe Dlamini

Chief of Staff, UN Women

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000