Peace and Gender Equality in Post-2015 Development: Mutually Reinforcing, not Mutually Exclusive
The political outcome document resulting from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, the conference that initiated the process to determine Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), states in incontrovertible language in its statement of a common vision that it reaffirmed the importance of both “peace and security” and “gender equality.” As the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs continues into its eighth session, conversations surrounding the inclusion of both gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as conflict prevention and peacebuilding into post-2015 development agenda will take center stage here in New York next week.
Several interesting reports have also been released in recent months that integrate both issues, including the UN’s “Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential,” the OECD’s International Network on Conflict and Fragility’s (INCAF) “Gender and Statebuilding in Fragile and Conflict-affected States,” as well as the UN’s OWG Technical Support Team (TST) Issues Briefs on conflict prevention and gender issues. While it remains to be seen what progress will be made on these issues separately, the intersection and interaction of both gender and peace- and statebuilding efforts is important for policymakers to take into consideration as the OWG talks advance.
Working toward peaceful societies and gender equality are important items of discussion in their own right as they relate to the post-2015 agenda. The poor who live in conflict-affected areas are set to become the majority of those in global poverty by the time the SDGs take effect. As the TST Issues Brief on Conflict Prevention notes “by 2015, more than 50 percent of the world’s poor are likely to live in conflict-affected and fragile states and this percentage is projected to increase to 82 percent by 2025.” At the same time, gender inequality, as the TST further comments, is “the most pervasive form of inequality around the world” and it has already been recognized as an important goal in its own right for the original MDGs, as was reflected most explicitly in MDG Goal 3: “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women,” as well as in other goals (Goal 5: “Improve Maternal Health”) and various sub-targets. Clearly, both issues will be of prime importance in nailing down what will become the SDGs.
However, neither issue should be seen to the exclusion of the other. Violence in conflict-affected states impacts women and men differently. Peacebuilding efforts when women are included give communities the chance to “build back better,” as the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated in his 2010 report on women’s participation in peacebuilding, echoing the unanimously approved UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which affirmed the “importance of women’s equal participation in all aspects of conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict reconstruction” in 2000. OECD INCAF’s latest report makes an important contribution in this area in outlining areas in which gender perspectives can be integrated into peacebuilding, statebuilding, and long-term development in both general donor practices as well as the post-2015 framework.
Moving forward into next week’s OWG meetings, an agreement on an explicit SDG goal and related targets on peaceful societies that include explicit crime and violence indicators may be a tough sell. One feasible approach may involve pursuing an agenda that incorporates women’s empowerment and rights as a means towards building more peaceful and stable societies. As Valerie Hudson et al. (2012) point out in Sex and World Peace (and as cited in the TST on conflict resolution), where “women have access to employment, participate in public decision-making and enjoy equal property and inheritance rights, countries reap the rewards through lower levels of corruption and a lessened propensity to engage in intra and inter-state conflict”.
It is on this note that CIC will be releasing a report shortly analyzing options for goals and targets on peace and stability in the post-2015 agenda, in which these links between gender and peace are further discussed. The paper provides an overview of the various goals and targets that have been proposed related to conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding, and the promotion of durable peace, rule of law and governance, analyzing the feasibility of proposals.