Women must have a greater role in conflict-prevention and peacebuilding in Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific region, which is confronted with a number of conflicts, needs to recognize more fully the central role of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding processes, a forum, organized here by the United Nations said.
Ending two days of talks, the Asia-Pacific Regional Advisory Group on Women, Peace and Security, comprising distinguished advocates on women’s human rights and security, including those who have worked in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, called for greater women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, peacemaking and post-conflict development in the region.
Set up in 2010 by the United Nations Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism, the Group provides strategic advice and support to the UN on the effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. In its work, the Group also gives prominence to women’s human rights and gender equality, and takes into account the vital link between conflict and economic and social development processes.
Only two countries in Asia-Pacific, namely the Philippines and Nepal, have developed national action plans on women, peace and security, as called for in resolution 1325. “Countries across our vast and diverse region are at different stages of armed conflicts, some are in the midst of wars, other face post-conflict challenges. Yet at whatever stage in the process, the impact on women and their integral role in peacebuilding and recovery processes needs to be highlighted,” said Ms. Ethel F. Sigimanu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs, Solomon Islands, who chaired the inaugural meeting of the Group held on 13 and 14 September 2011.
Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, who played an instrumental role in supporting the adoption of the landmark Resolution 1325 by the UN Security Council, in her capacity as Executive Director of UNIFEM over ten years ago, stated: “The effects of conflict on women pose significant obstacles to achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. We must end the disproportionate impact of conflicts on women, including the destruction of their livelihoods and social infrastructure and address the particular risks and vulnerabilities faced by women.”
“This is indeed a matter of social justice,” she added.
The Regional Advisory Group on Women, Peace and Security, is the first of its kind in the UN system. It brings together leading experts on women’s human rights and security from Governments and civil society in the Asia-Pacific region. The Group is supported by the UN Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, chaired by ESCAP and UN Women, and comprising 20 UN entities working together to promote this common agenda.
During the two-day meeting, the Group reviewed regional priorities and adopted a framework for action for the next four years that will focus on addressing developments in the situation of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict areas, enhance collaboration between governments and civil society, and other key actions in implementing UNSC Resolution 1325 and related resolutions.