UK launches plan to boost women's roles in ending wars and building peace

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 13 June 2014 06:31 GMT

In a 2011 file photo, women display their hands painted red, symbolizing bloodshed, and blue, symbolizing peace, during a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

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Plan focuses on Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Somalia

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain has launched a plan on women, peace and security aimed at ensuring that women in countries affected by conflict can play a central role in ending wars and building peace.

The national action plan, launched on Thursday at a global conference in London on tackling sexual violence in conflict, focuses on six countries including Syria and aims to do the following:

  • Encourage the employment of women within foreign government roles, security services, the armed forces and related ministries.
  • Build women and girls’ leadership, networks, ability to organise and political know-how in conflict and post-conflict situations.
  • Undertake “safe space” programmes to protect adolescent girls from violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, including projects in refugee settings.

“Women’s participation in peace processes helps ensure that sexual violence and other issues that disproportionately affect women and girls are given the attention they deserve,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

“And in return, by tackling sexual violence in conflict, we are removing a crushing weight from women’s lives across the world, accelerating a change of attitude towards women in many other settings and taking an important step towards what I keep saying is the great strategic prize of the 21st Century, which is the full attainment of political, social and economic rights for women.”

Hague said that since the end of the Cold War, women have made up just 4 percent of signatories to peace agreements, less than 3 percent of mediators, and less than 10 percent of those sitting around the negotiating table.

“No solution to a conflict can be sustainable or lasting if it ignores the needs, experience and interests of half a country’s population,” he added.

He said Britain was determined to have full participation for women in the Syrian peace process when it restarts in order to start to mend “the damage that Assad’s brutal war has done to women’s rights.”

Other countries in the plan are Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Somalia.

The plan was launched by the foreign ministry, ministry for international development and defence ministry.

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