British and Irish Governments must strengthen women’s role in peace process.
The Northern Ireland Executive was urged today to pressurise the British and Irish governments into implementing a UN Security Council Resolution which would give women here a more representative role in the peace process.
Feminist peace building group Hanna’s House met with MLAs today (18th September) in Belfast, ahead of a major All-Ireland Conference in Dublin in November, to discuss the need for both British and Irish governments to include Northern Ireland in their national action plans to implement UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Shirley Graham, peace project co-ordinator of Hanna’s House, said the failure of the two governments to make provision for Northern Ireland in their action plans meant that women would continue to be under represented in politics, policing and the judiciary.
“The UNSCR calls for the increased participation of women in those institutions specifically established as result of conflict. The exclusion of Northern Ireland from their Action Plans by both Governments means that women will continue to be under-represented in those institutions set up under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles in areas that can make a difference to communities still living with the aftermath of conflict.
“We organised this meeting today to help raise awareness of the importance of UNSCR 1325 and to invite representatives from the Northern Ireland Assembly to attend an All Ireland Conference on Delivering Women Peace and Security’ at Croke Park Conference Centre on November 5. The conference will be the first time politicians from both sides of the border will have come together to discuss this issue with women from all across Ireland.
“We are also calling on the London and Dublin administrations to work together on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 by having sections on Northern Ireland in their national action plans that complement each other. We believe the Northern Ireland Executive could have a leading role in persuading them that this is the right approach to take.”
The Croke Park Conference, which will be opened by Irish President Michael D Higgins, will include a keynote address by Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, giving an overview of UNSCR 1325 from a global perspective.
There will also be contributions from Professor Monica McWilliams on gender mainstreaming within the judiciary and from PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie on gender perspectives on policing and security.
Today’s meeting in Belfast followed a similar briefing in July when representatives from Hanna’s House met the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement to discuss the need for north south co-operation in implementing UNSCR 1325.
Hanna’s House believe that the institutions set up by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement can be used to move forward the key actions demanded by the resolution.
Dr Margaret Ward, Hanna’s House Chair has stated that “the implementation of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is ongoing and if UNSCR 1325 had existed at the time of its negotiation it would have provided a mechanism to ensure that women were adequately represented at the peace talks and in formal peace building institutions”.
Ms Graham added: “The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement created a framework in which the two governments could work with the new Northern Ireland Assembly to advance the peace process. This same framework can be used to bring about a new approach to Resolution 1325, to bring women to the heart of peace-building.
“It is important for women in Northern Ireland who have been impacted by violence to have real influence over institutions and services to create a safer and more equal society. This is not just about conflict resolution but also about prevention. We believe that women have a major role to play in ensuring we do not slide back into conflict.”
For more information about Hanna’s House visit www.hannashouse.ie
Notes to Editors
UNCR 1325, which was signed on October 31 2000, is a landmark resolution that promotes women as powerful agents of change of conflict rather than as voiceless victims.
It recognises that women are important actors in peace building and conflict prevention and on governments to devise policy that provides women with adequate security and healthcare in the post conflict situation.
The UK National Action Plan on UNCR 1325 was published on November 25, 2010 and revised in February 2012. Despite intensive lobbying from GB and NI women’s group, the government does not address the conflict in their National Action Plan.
The Irish National Action Plan was officially launched by Mary Robinson in November 25 2011. November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Hanna’s House has called on the Irish Government to ensure that UNSCR 1325 was an integral part of the work of its Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as well as Ministerial Councils set up under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement: – the British-Irish Council, British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, North/South Council, North-South Inter-parliamentary Association and the North-South Parliamentary Forum to cooperate on issues related to women’s equality and human rights.