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UN Resolution Struggling to Make a Difference to Women’s Lives in War

UN Resolution Struggling to Make a Difference to Women’s Lives in War

UN Resolution Struggling to Make a Difference to Women’s Lives in War

If one of the most important international bodies in the world is struggling to make a difference to the lives of girls and women, then what hope do the rest of us have?

Resolution 1325 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in 2000, after decades of lobbying on the part of women rights activists. The resolution was the first to specifically address the impact of war on women and girls. Fifteen years later there are suggestions that it has made little to no difference to the lives of women and girls in war torn countries.   

The main aim of the resolution was to ensure the full participation of women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations; actions to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in war, and the prosecution of those carrying out such attacks; as well as a recognition of the different needs of female and male ex-combatants when planning disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes (DDR).  

The resolution called for more women in peacekeeping operations and local police forces, not to mention funding to support local women’s peace initiatives, and to assess all peace agreements for their effect on women. The safety of women and girls in refugee camps was also noted as an issue.

Since resolution 1325, six other resolutions have been created to further support and protect women in peace and in conflict, with the most recent resolutions being passed in 2013.

Resolution 1325 and its counterparts have indeed raised awareness of the impact of peace and conflict on women and give activists something concrete to which they can hold governments accountable. However, in practical terms an impact study published by the UN in 2010 tells a different story.

The report found that the UN had achieved little success in improving the participation of women in conflict resolution, particularly in rural areas. Although it is noted that some progress had been made in passing laws against sexual and gender-based violence as well as the improvement of the security of women. But, there are still issues regarding gender perspectives in the DDR, as last year alone women were still being excluded from high-level conferences on the reconstruction of Afghanistan; conferences being hosted by the British Government.  

Female UN peacekeepers are also far too often an uncommon sight. Only 2% of the UN’s largest mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo are female. Most of these females are also in low-level positions, working mostly on communication, logistics or nursing; and describe a persistent, prevailing machismo culture in peacekeeping.

Rape is also still an all too common issue and seen as a weapon of war. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, reported that sexual violence continues to affect men, women and children. In Iraq and Syria, women were targets of abuse, evidenced by reports of rape, forced marriage and forced prostitution. In parts of South Sudan, women suffered from mass displacement which made them more vulnerable to abuse.

Gender-equality and gender-based violence are two issues that still loom in the world today: and issue  which many civil rights activist would never have dreamed would have still be a problem in 2015. If the UN is struggling to implement these resolutions because of governments and attitudes to women, then unfortunately I struggle to see when an end to this crisis will come. People throughout the world suffer from a lack of education on equality in all areas of life. Without this education, the job of international organisations becomes much harder as it becomes extremely difficult for them to implement resolutions.

Who should do the educating you ask? We should, we should all promote the message of equality and the end of gender-based violence. We are the future and I for one refuse to leave the world in the state that I found it in.


Nina is in her Honours year at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studying History. She loves keeping fit and healthy at the gym and singing to her hearts content. Because of Nina's love of all things history related, she has a passion for reading, writing and researching. Nina is the Editor-in-Chief for an online magazine for female students at Strathclyde called Her Campus Strath and wants to continue her passion for writing after graduation. 


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