Gender as a Cross-Cutting Priority
The topic of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) is a cross-cutting priority across the programming of UNITAR, following a growing commitment to leaving no one behind in its efforts to build sustainable and inclusive peace in conflict and post-conflict environments. The development of our main activities in relation to GEWE is driven by the understanding that peace implies the establishment, in a broad-based and deep-rooted fashion, of the attitudes, institutions and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies in the long run and which prevent the occurrence of and/or relapse into all forms of violence – including armed violence, but also exploitation, discriminations, marginalization, all types of exclusion, human insecurity, gender-based violence, and the failure to fulfil populations’ most basic needs.
As made clear in the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325, as well as by subsequent resolutions constituting the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, positive peace cannot be achieved without the substantial and meaningful involvement and participation of all members of society, including its most vulnerable members and those most affected by the consequences of armed conflict. UNSCR 1325 also recognizes the critical role that women play in peacebuilding efforts, and affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict, the delivery of relief and recovery efforts and in the forging of lasting peace. Indeed, it has been shown that women’s participation in conflict resolution, as members of negotiating parties, mediators, advisors, or active representatives of women’s civil society, makes peace agreements more durable. When women fully participate in peace processes, agreements are 20% more likely to last at least two years and 35% more likely to last 15 years.
Hence, in line with the principles underpinning the WPS Agenda, as well as with the targets enlisted under the Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 16, UNITAR aims to contribute to the increase in the representation and participation of women at all levels of decision-making in conflict resolution and peace processes, both quantitatively and qualitatively. UNITAR recognizes that the range of contributions women can and do make to the cause of durable peace are as varied as their own backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
Consequently, we have developed different programmes and initiatives that strive to reach and empower women from all sectors and areas of society, who work towards building peace from the grassroots, community level to the national, regional, and continental level, with a particular focus on building the capacity and confidence of the most marginalized women, including young women and girls in conflict-affected areas. It does so through the provision of tailored and customized capacity building and capacity development packages that not only provide beneficiaries with the specialized knowledge and skills needed to develop and carry out peace-related initiatives, but also furthers ‘agency-based empowerment’ – enhancing their personal agency and confidence in their ability to act as actors of peace and positive change. UNITAR builds capacity at the individual, the collective, and the institutional level, ensuring that individuals alone do not shoulder the whole responsibility for change, but are surrounded with enabling structures, supportive institutions, and conducive environments, and that individual women’s empowerment goes hand in hand with increasingly inclusive societal norms.