Is it time for feminist resistance rather than arguing for women’s participation in peace processes?

Implementing SCR 1325: lessons from Israel.

The attempt to implement Security Council Resolution 1325 after the failure of the Oslo Peace Process revealed a paralysed women’s movement in Israel.

Does the incorporation of women in formal peace processes pose a threat to the possible achievements of women’s grassroots peace organizations in the transition from conflict to peace? Should women insist on joining formal peace negotiations, or maintain feminist resistance from outside? These questions are part of a developing debate concerning the potential of women’s peace activism in times of armed conflict at the beginning of the 21st century, in light of the adoption of United Nation SCRs 1325 and 1889.

Many peace activists and scholars around the world have acknowledged that the public engagement of the Security Council with gender issues has opened the door for new forms of understanding the marginalized placement of women in peace processes. Resolution 1325 has outlined a strategic path to claim women’s protection and participation, promoting an underlying assumption that women’s inclusion in formal peace efforts is a means of achieving gender equality and sustainable peace. As a result, local and international mechanisms ensuring equal representation in peace negotiations were rapidly encouraged during the last decade. But many have also experienced how overcoming the gendered construction of peace negotiations is a difficult task. Currently, the most documented difficulties that women who are involved in formal peace efforts face are: lack of funding, capacity and experience; a dominant masculine political culture and the prevalence of militaristic values among political elites; and the need to overcome gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles.

This is why a decade after Resolution 1325 women’s participation in peace processes still remains a utopian struggle. As stated by the Secretary General in a report submitted to the Security Council in September 2009, “A persistent cause of concern is that women continue to be virtually absent from the peace table and to be severely underrepresented as third-party mediators or even as representatives of the United Nations in most conflict-affected countries. Women’s activism at the grass roots rarely translates into official recognition during peace processes, where they are seldom included in formal negotiations.”

At the International Gender Justice Dialogue held in Mexico last month I wanted to share with participants the limitation of local attempts to implement and interpret international norms concerning gender, peace and security, based on the Israeli experience during the last decade. This is a chronicle of a paralysed women’s movement trying to face the aftermath of a ‘failed peace process’.

To read the full comment piece go to http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarai-arahoni/implementing-scr-1325-lessons-from-israel

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