Emirati minister Mariam Almheiri says female inclusion could boost global GDP by $28 trillion

United Arab Emirates advocates the importance of women in peace processes

The United Arab Emirates has called on the international community to include women in peace negotiations and peace processes, as well as in post-conflict recovery efforts. They have also urged the private sector to take appropriate measures to try to establish peaceful societies in which women's empowerment and gender equality are ensured.

According to the UN, between 1992 and 2019 only 13% of negotiators in peace processes were women. This figure was more than halved when it came to women signatories and seven out of ten peace processes did not include any women either as mediators or signatories, reflecting the huge gap between men and women in the consideration of women in concluding something as momentous as the post-conflict era. 

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As Emirati Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri told the UN Security Council, "women are crucial to recovery and relief efforts, but their inclusion remains undervalued and their access to opportunities, resources and markets remains limited".

She argued that "women must not only benefit from sustainable post-conflict recovery, they must be in the driver's seat as planners, decision-makers and implementers in all sectors of society" in order to "ensure sustainable peacebuilding".

It has been 22 years since the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000. This resolution was the first to include women in peace agendas at the United Nations, yet two decades later, little has been achieved in this area. The lack of international leaders who are women, the marginalisation of women at the global level when it comes to making relevant decisions and their scarce presence in the spheres of power are the main causes that may explain this lack of women's presence in peace processes.

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In addition to inequality, armed conflicts that blur the possibility of charting a peaceful path and the COVID-19 pandemic itself, a situation that has greatly hindered these processes, have made it even more difficult for women to be included in peace processes.

For her part, the Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, declared that "more than ever we need a different model of leadership". She said that countries where women are more marginalised are "more likely to be involved in wars".

In addition, she emphasised that while women are more likely to "spend their income on family needs and make a greater contribution to economic recovery", post-conflict phases are "overwhelmingly male-dominated and male-dominated". Bahous gave the example of Afghanistan, where after the return of the Taliban to power, women live with almost no identity. She pointed out that the Afghan country is experiencing "a new gender apartheid" that has included "the abrupt drop in women's employment since the Taliban took power". 

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She noted that more than half of the countries affected by economic crises and conflict are in sub-Saharan Africa "where economic losses due to gender inequality amount to $2.5 trillion".

She urged the Security Council to use its resolutions to integrate women not only in conflict prevention or peacebuilding "but also in decision-making (...) we have the model to support women's economic inclusion, what we need is the political will to achieve it", she concluded.

On the other hand, in an interview previously conducted in Atalayar with the director of the centre against gender violence in Sudan, Sulaima Ishaq El-Khalifa, the activist declared that "women's bodies have been used as a tool of war. Women who have survived such violence deserve compensation and men have not mentioned anything to fight against this," she said. "When there are strong women in negotiation processes, they make sure that women and children are included, unlike men".

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The role of women in post-conflict situations 

The inclusion of women in peace processes and peace negotiations has been and remains one of the main challenges they face. Often, the lack of women's presence in this context leads to the perpetuation of gender inequalities in peacebuilding and in the post-conflict era.

According to different studies, the fact that women are not part of these processes means that all the gains made in terms of equality, such as women's own participation in military conflict, are lost. They also point out that in conflicts, "if women are the majority victims, peace is also a collective issue that concerns them as the main actors of denunciation", both in the elaboration of proposals and in political changes. 

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Today, according to UN Women reports, women represent 21.9% of ministers globally and only 19.2% in countries currently in conflict and post-conflict. Furthermore, according to UNHCR, the process for women's participation in the leadership of humanitarian response in armed conflict has slowed substantially. However, reports indicate that the numbers of sexual violence against women and girls continue to rise, in addition to physical and economic violence.

In 2020, the UN reported 2,500 verified cases of sexual violence committed in 18 countries. In addition, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 35 cases of killings of women journalists, human rights defenders and women trade unionists in seven conflict-affected countries in the same year.
 


 

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