Arria-formula Meeting: Women, Peace and Security
Tomorrow (13 March), there will be an open Arria-formula meeting from 3pm-6pm in the ECOSOC chamber on the inequalities between women and men in political processes. France (Council president this month) and Germany organised the meeting. (France and Germany, which will be Council president next month, have been describing March and April as their “joint presidencies” of the Council.) Tomorrow’s meeting takes place in the midst of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, convened from 11-22 March at UN headquarters.
Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, and Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, are expected to brief tomorrow. AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Bineta Diop; Fatima Maïga of the Coalition des femmes maliennes pour l’agenda Femmes, Paix et Sécurité; and Delphine Djiraibe, a Chadian attorney and co-founder of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, are also expected to participate.
The concept note circulated by France and Germany in preparation for the meeting states that it aims to “address the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in order to identify obstacles and to highlight the good practices amongst member States, regional and sub regional organizations, UN entities and members of civil society.” More specifically, the meeting seeks to “provide an opportunity to discuss the initiatives that need to be undertaken in order to encourage the participation of women in political processes”, including discussions around how to evaluate national and regional processes in this regard.
The significant challenges in respect of women’s participation in political processes and how to address these challenges most effectively is likely to be a feature of the discussion. The concept note outlines the need for a broad and holistic outlook on women’s participation in political processes, including peace processes, conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction, and relief and recovery. It states that there is also a need for further and faster implementation of the women, peace and security agenda to ensure that women participate at all levels and stages of peace processes and across multiple sectors, including military, civil, political and economic.
The Sahel region is expected to be an area of focus for tomorrow’s meeting. The concept note invites participants to support the participation of women in political processes in the Sahel region where they are vulnerable to extreme poverty; terrorist threats; famine; climate risks; limited access to education, property, employment, appropriate financial structures, and health services; and sexual violence, including by terrorist groups.
Members may encourage steps taken to support women’s empowerment in the Sahel and elsewhere. Examples of such measures in the Sahel include the establishment of the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform in 2018, which contributes to the involvement of women in the fight against violent extremism, and the signing at the end of February of a joint communiqué between the government of Mali and Patten in order to enable a more structured response to conflict-related sexual violence.
Although the Malian government recently met for the first time the goal of 30 percent women representation established by a 2015 law, the participation of women in the implementation of the peace agreement and in the peace process more generally remains limited. This is the case in particular in respect of the interim authorities in the five northern regions and in the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
During her presentation tomorrow, Patten, who has just returned from Mali, is likely to present her reflections on the situation in the country in relation to her mandate. Members will be interested in her insights, as they prepare to depart on a Council visiting mission to the country later this month.
France and Germany have signalled that the protection and empowerment of women in conflict situations is a priority of their joint presidencies. On 8 February, there was an open Arria-formula meeting on the preventive impact of criminal accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, organised by Germany, in partnership with Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, France, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, South Africa and the UK. Next month, the Council will hold an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence, leading to a possible outcome.