Financing for Women, Peace, and Security

By UUA International Resources

Sixteen years ago, a landmark resolution on Women, Peace, and Security passed in the Security Council of the United Nations. That resolution, UNSCR 1325, laid the foundation for a new approach to global security, and alongside the Beijing Declaration, the global community committed to ensuring that the impact of conflict on women and girls would not go unaddressed. Since that resolution, the global feminist civil society community has worked to counter the increasing presence of militarism while simultaneously advancing the agenda of women’s role in making a more peaceful, just, and equitable world. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was founded in 1915 and since then has worked around the world to unitewomen in the fight for demilitarization, disarmament, and a more equal world - causes that UUs have worked tirelessly for as well. Here at the UN, WILPF has created a project called PeaceWomen, who monitor the implementation of UNSCR 1325, advance inter-agency cooperation on Women, Peace and Security, and organize information sharing through their website and events, like the one I was lucky enough to attend this month. This workshop invited guest speakers from the civil society community, academia, UN agencies, and governments to share their knowledge on a variety of topics, from illicit financial flows to gender responsive budgeting and National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security.

Militarization and the Protector-Protected Relationship

Our day started with comments from Cynthia Enloe, an expert on gender and militarism and someone recognized globally for her insights on women’s role in the changing paradigm of international relations. Her comments, focusing on the protector-protected relationship in militarization and how gender roles are reaffirmed by this dichotomy, allowed those participating in the workshop to better understand how an increasingly nationalistic and gendered world leads us away from equality and hurts feminism. One concept that I found particularly significant from Dr. Enloe’s presentation was how in the protector-protected relationship a so-called “natural” (male) protector emerges, reinforcing traditional gender norms and further militarizing societies. In the UN’s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration work (DDR), we find that even in a post-UNSCR 1325 world, women are being under-served and underrepresented, leading to post-conflict scenarios that may be even more gendered than before. Nela Porobic is someone who has seen first hand how DDR has failed to protect, serve, and advance women in Bosnia. Ms. Porobic has worked extensively as a WILPF coordinator in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and she commented on the issues facing that country 20 years after the end of the Bosnian war. From the lack of any women being present at the Dayton Agreement to the post-war policy of the EU only looking at women “in the broader context”, the economic and social rights of women have been generally ignored, hindering peace and development in that country. As someone who works on the ground, Porobic issued some recommendations for future peace agreements and ensuring that women are represented in post-war scenarios:
  • Peace agreements must introduce measures for redress of victims of war
  • Peace agreements must ensure protection and effective implementation of economic, social and cultural rights for all.
  • Peace agreements must move financing into a framework for building sustainable and gender just peace.

The Real Cost of War 

Accurate data and statistics are key tools in every aspect of policy and governance, and WILPF gathered experts from the Institute for Peace and Economics, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Christian Aid, and the Feminist Task Force to discuss the cost of violence, illicit financial flows, military spending, and how financing for development is instrumentalizing women. A key tool in understanding peace is the Global Peace Index, put together each year by the Institute for Peace and Economics. The Global Peace Index allows governments, international organizations, and civil society, as well as anyone online, via, to see how countries compare and rank overall on peace, as well as on more specific peacefulness indices, such as financial contribution to UN peacekeeping missions. The cost of violence around the world is $13.6 trillion, or 13.3% of global GDP, while only $6.8 billion is spent on peace-building initiatives. The data used for the Global Peace Index in a large part comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), who, as one of the world’s most influential think tanks, publishes data about defense spending around the world, and the workshop had the privilege of Dr. Sam Perlo-Freeman, a senior researcher from SIPRI and the head of the Military Expenditure Project, talking to the group about the changing world of military spending and its impacts on Women, Peace and Security. The work SIPRI does on tracking military spending is remarkable, and paints a clear picture of trends in defense spending over the last 27 years. Understanding the relationship between military spending and spending on peace allowed us as workshop participants to better understand the politics that our “security” spending is driven by.

Banks Turning Away NGOs

Since the devastation of 9/11, the US government, along with international bodies such as the UN and EU, have introduced stricter and stricter counter-terrorism financing legislation. This necessary policy has had the unexpected effect of chilling the financial sector’s relationship with NGOs, leading to many organizations being denied financial services, despite having no suspicious history or potential for terrorist financing. Sarah Adamczyk and Isabelle Geuskens, from Duke University and Women Peacemakers Programme respectively, have been researching this extensively, and it is troubling to hear how the financial sector’s focus on compliance has led to a fear of working with legitimate non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Adamczyk and Geuskens will be presenting their research in a report being released around the anniversary of UNSCR 1325 this year, and I hope that the international community can ensure that they allow NGOs to do the critical work that they do while still preventing the spread of global terrorism.

Gender Responsive Budgeting 

After lunch, the group was lucky enough to hear from Sharon Hanson-Cooper, Emilia Reyes, and Daisy Tourné, three incredible women who are all working to use government budgeting as a tool to advance gender equity. Ms. Reyes is the director of the Gender Policies and Budgeting program at Equidad de Género, and her wonderful insights on how gender responsive budgets are a key component of government equality was something that stuck with many of the participants at the workshop. In her work with governments in Mexico, she frequently asked the question “Who are those who are not around?” when addressing social policy. The necessity to include people who are isolated from urban centers is something that is often missed in the work that governments do, and Ms. Reyes's focus on service delivery as a way to address sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and other inequalities, and particularly service delivery in the context of gender budgets, was extremely inspiring. Daisy Tourné, a senator and former minister of the interior from Uruguay, also spoke on Gender budgets, and how government priorities need to shift from financing militaries that, in the words of a Uruguayan maxim “Get up early to do nothing,” to social services and gender equality. In Uruguay, there are 7 military personnel per 1,000 residents, compared to a global average of 2 per 1,000 residents. Tourné concluded by saying that twenty years ago, there was no women’s bathroom in the Uruguayan parliament, and today Uruguay is on the road to gender equality.

National Action Plans

National Action Plans (NAPs) are a key tool in the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Mavic Cabrera Balleza, along with Hetty Burgman, explained the need for budgeted, financed NAPs. Of the 67 National Action Plans that have been adopted, Balleza explained, a mere 12 of them have budgets to back them up, meaning that while there is a plan on paper for what could be done, meaningful action is not happening in a majority of the countries with NAPs. According to Balleza, the National Action Plan seems to serve as a tool that allows countries to say that are meeting their UNSCR 1325 commitments without actually doing any work to further the intention of the UNSCR. National Action Plans are not standardized, with some being excessively comprehensive while others fail to address key points. Because of these discrepancies, neither is effective, with the excessively comprehensive ones wasting time on details that should be addressed in implementation, and the under documented ones failing to guide their countries in an effective way.

Ensuring the Promotion of Women's Role in UN Work

The UN system has a variety of organizations all working towards various goals, from atomic energy control to development and the rights of women and everything in-between. As workshop attendees, we were lucky enough to have representatives from UN Women present to us on the work they’re doing to promote funding for NGOs working towards gender equity, promote more gender-focused projects within UN agencies, and ensure that projects the UN funds contain elements of promoting gender equality.


All in all, the workshop allowed us, as participants, to get a truly global sense of the realities behind financing Women, Peace and Security. As a global community, we have a responsibility to fulfill the global need for Women’s equality in every aspect of life, and the knowledge shared at the workshop presented by PeaceWomen helped us, as civil society players and as global citizens, to understand the crucial place of Women in Peace and Security and how we can finance the journey to get there.

By Neal Cameron, UU-UNO Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Program Intern

About the Author

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Experts, civil society representatives, and other WPS players participate in the workshop

Image from PeaceWomen