Resolution 1325 and Women's Political Participation

Led by Åshild Falch

Mar 2009 – Sep 2010

Project financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Since the unanimous adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000, there has been increasing interest in women’s role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. As the first of its kind, Resolution 1325 recognized the relevance of gender in peace and security matters, and mandated all United Nations member-states to ensure full participation of women at all levels of decision-making in conflict resolution and peace processes. It also called for the protection of women and girls against violence during and after conflict, and for the adoption of a gender perspective to prevent and mitigate impacts of conflict on women. While progress has been made in implementing these provisions, particularly at international strategic and policy levels, worldwide testimonies show that translating the goals of Resolution 1325 into reality in conflict-affected countries remains a challenge.

The purpose of this project is to examine achievements and challenges related to implementing one particular aspect of Resolution 1325: the provisions for increased participation of women in post-conflict decision-making. Through case studies of two countries that recently emerged from armed internal conflicts − Burundi and Nepal − the project examines the extent to which women have been able to participate effectively in national political decision-making after the end of conflict. While Burundi and Nepal display many differences and find themselves at differing stages of the post-conflict peace process, the two countries present interesting cases of achievements and obstacles related to involving women in decision-making. In both countries, women have traditionally been barred from access to public and political life, and during their respective peace processes no woman took part in the formal negotiations. This traditional marginalization of women from decision-making notwithstanding, Burundi and Nepal stand out in their efforts to advance women’s involvement in national politics following the end of armed conflict. Since the country’s first post-conflict elections in 2005, Burundi’s parliament and government have had 30% female representation, while women have made up more than one-third of the Constituent Assembly in Nepal since 2008. This puts both countries ahead of most industrialized democracies in terms of women’s presence in formal political institutions. In addition, both are notable for the large numbers of women engaged in women’s civil society organizations, which have been lauded for their mobilization and efforts throughout the peace and post-conflict political processes in the two countries.

These achievements notwithstanding, a number of challenges remain to be addressed if women in Burundi and Nepal are to be fully able to participate effectively in political decision-making. The aim of this project is thus to go beyond the merely numerical aspects of women’s political participation, and not only to study the progress that has been made but more importantly to reveal the obstacles that remain for women’s effective participation in post-conflict decision-making. What steps have women taken to gain political participation and influence? What challenges have they faced? And to what extent have their initiatives and interests been addressed by main political actors in the post-conflict period? By identifying and documenting cross-cutting issues in the two case studies, the study also seeks to draw more general lessons that could serve to deepen our understanding about the prospects and problems of increasing women’s participation in post-conflict decision-making processes in Burundi, Nepal and other comparable cases.

Please click on the links below to access the project’s publications.

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