USA leads the way for UK by funding women’s peacebuilding
Last week the United States government announced $1.5 million funding to support women’s participation in peacebuilding in Nepal, Philippines and Yemen. This important commitment comes alongside the new US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Why fund women’s peacebuilding work?
Clinton rightly points out that “a growing body of evidence shows that women offer unique contributions to making and keeping peace – and that those contributions lead to better outcomes not just for women but for entire societies.”
National Action Plans (NAPs) are mechanisms to ensure that governments implement their commitments under United Nations Resolution 1325, which firmly places women at the heart of peacebuilding. The United States plan is a welcome addition to a growing list of NAPs from Uganda to the Netherlands, Nepal to Chile.
In some ways, the USA has come late to the table; the UK was amongst the first countries in the world to develop a NAP in 2006, and has made great strides in monitoring, strengthening and implementing it in the six years since.
Yet the US makes up for its “better late than never” approach, by attaching specific funding to the NAP to make sure commitments to women’s participation in peacebuilding are more than just on paper.
What difference will the money make?
In Nepal the funding will train women police officers, in Yemen it will support women to become candidates for election, and in the Philippines it will support development of women’s peace tables that will give local women a means of connecting with and feeding into formal peace talks.
Increasing women’s access to justice, promoting political participation, and amplifying the voices of local women activists are vital steps to ensuring that women’s rights are recognised and that peace is just and sustainable. These steps are at the core of our work on women, peace and security.
UK must seize the opportunity to put funding in place
Despite being six years older, the UK NAP as yet has no funding attached to it, and no clear way to ensure that UK money which is already being spent on peacebuilding and conflict prevention includes commitments to women’s rights and participation.
The USA has put its money where its mouth is, thanks to Secretary Clinton, and I hope she takes an opportunity to encourage her UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary William Hague, to ensure that the UK does the same. The opportunity is there – the NAP will be evaluated in 2013 and relaunched in 2014. Now is the time for the government to seize that opportunity.