by Hamdi Aden, Somalia 

Although, women are recognized as a fundamental force in the quest to eradicate poverty and maintain the stability of families and societies, human rights violations against women remain at a level where policy and rhetoric are not representative and reflective of  negligent State actions that fail to promote and protect such rights.

This is particularly evident in societies in conflict where Women and children are the most vulnerable groups, comprising the vast majority of the victims and often becoming targets and being repeatedly victimized by all sides of the conflict. Both Dr Joyce Neu and Hon. Betty Bigombe, this week’s female speakers, reiterated the importance of ensuring engendering of peace processes. Both speakers felt that if the ‘imperative is to create peace, not just to stop the violence’, then gender concerns must be a fundamental aspect of the peace processes. These concerns, as encapsulated in UNSCR 1325 and subsequent UNSCRs advocate for and stress the inclusion of women in the peace processes from prevention, peacemaking to peace-building.

However, mediation – at least prior and to some extent post UNSCR 1325 (2000)- has a tendency to perpetuate the idea that having an army guarantees participation in the decision making process. In Somalia and in other place on the African continent, this has lead to mediated peace agreements which have tended to devolve into power-sharing agreements between the combatants, leaving little space for addressing the impact of the conflict on the society and ensuring justice for victims.

Unsurprisingly, women’s participation in the peace process remains disproportionally low, with only 2.46% signatories to peace agreements from 1999 to 2009. And while participants to peace processes are aware of UNSCR 1325, there is disconnect between policies on 1325 and implementation.

Even though Donors tout their commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, interventions still lack a gendered perspective and the inclusion of women. In this regard, mediators must also share some of the blame as they have failed to ensure inclusion of women. Thus the international community, donors and mediators must ensure the inclusion of women by reaching out to women and civil society groups that represent them and provide timely funding, protection and capacity building mechanisms for women to be able to participate in the peace process.