Campaign update: take action by 31 October to put women at the heart of peace
It’s been a busy month since we launched our campaign to put women at the heart of peace, calling on the UK government to take action to increase women’s participation in peacebuilding. Here’s an update of where we are so far.
What we’re asking for
Our new report, From the Ground Up (PDF), shows that women and women’s rights organisations in local communities are working hard to build peace, yet when it comes to formal peace processes, they are still left out. Despite women’s practical work to build peace, only 1 in 40 signatories to peace agreements are women.
The UK government is a world leader in “women, peace and security” – the Foreign Secretary and Ambassadors highlight the issue at global meetings, they champion the participation of women in peace processes, and they have a National Action Plan which lays out how they do it.
Yet when it comes to making it happen, one thing is still missing – dedicated funding to support women’s peacebuilding. We’re calling on the government to put this right, and ensure that a minimum of 15% of the UK’s peacebuilding funds are used to support women’s rights and participation, in line with UN recommendations.
How we’re getting the message across
Our supporters are key to raising the issue of women’s participation in peacebuilding. Over 600 of you have taken action by writing to your local MP – and so far we’ve covered a brilliant 41% of all constituencies (that’s 268 MPs who have heard about our campaign). MPs have been writing to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, and International Development Secretary Justine Greening, as well as asking questions in parliament.
Party conferences were a time to really get the report on the radar of politicians, and join in side events, where we could ask questions. It’s not always the easiest environment, and lots of organisations are trying to get their message across to decision makers.
But with a bit of lurking around waiting for MPs, and some frantic hand waving in side events, I managed to raise the report and ask about the 15% funding with Foreign Secretary William Hague, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy, Shadow International Development Secretary Ivan Lewis, Development Select committee member Alison Mcgovern and Shadow DFID minister Rushanara Ali. There’ll be lots of follow up now to engage these key players on the issues.
What progress have we made
We’ve had some mixed responses so far. The bad news is that Foreign Secretary William Hague, after saying he’d ‘consider it’ at party conferences, has now replied saying that the Conflict Pool needs to be flexible, and as such they do not ringfence parts of it.
We don’t agree with this – in fact I think however flexible a fund needs to be, women will always be at least half of the population, and as such need their rights needs to be prioritised. However, the good news is that in informal talks with FCO staff, they’ve agreed that funding for women, peace and security needs to be looked at further, and we’re invited to keep an “open dialogue” with them about this. That’s really welcome progress, and we look forward to being in the conversation.
It’s early days in the campaign, there’s a long way to go, as we encourage the government to back up its spoken commitment to women’s participation, with some dedicated, transparent funds to support women.
Last chance to take action
Help us put pressure on the Foreign Office to commit 15% of their funding for peacebuilding to women’s rights (15% is the minimum recommended by the UN)
1) Email your MP at action.womankind.org.uk/mp/write
2) Support the peacebuilding work of our partners in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal by making a donation
Although this isn’t the end of the campaign, we’ll be closing this action on 31 October, the anniversary of the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which recognises the impact of conflict on women and their right to participate in peacebuilding.
Did you write to your MP? Please let us know at email@example.com so that we can keep track of which MPs have been contacted.
If you’d like to know how the campaign goes, sign up to our email list and we’ll keep you up to date.